We’re thrilled to welcome First Nations artists Maria Napanggka Dickenson, Martha Nakamarra Poulson, Nancy Nungarrayi Long, Rachel Nangala Rankine, Sarah Holmes Nabangardi, and Taylor Thompson with their exhibition Ingkerr-enheng (pronounced ing-gudda-gun), showing in the Modern Times gallery from 23 March until 4 April 2023.
Each a member of the Arlpwe Arts and Culture Centre, these six emerging artists paint from the studio in Ali Curung (or Alekareng, meaning ‘belonging to the dog’ to refer to the dog dreaming site that the town sits upon), a small remote community north of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Arlpwe, named by Traditional Owners when it opened in 2008, is a 100% Aboriginal owned non-for-profit, comprised of artists from the Kaytetye, Alyawarr, Warlpiri and Warumungu nations.
Drawing subject matter from their vast surroundings, day to day experiences out on country, and stories of the land and waterways. Rolling hillscapes, rivers and floodplains in the form of perpetual fine lines are observed, akin to those of a fingerprint. Bush foods are in abundance, ripe with layers of vibrant colour and subtle textures.
We invite you to get to know the artists behind the works exhibited in Ingkerr-enheng. Read on to find out more!
Martha Poulson Nakamarra
Language Group: Warlpiri
Martha Poulson Nakamarra is a Warlpiri lady, born and growing up in Yuendumu before moving to Ali Curung with her young family. She has fond memories of being young in Yuendumu and being taken out bush by “the old people” who taught them the ways of the traditional life that they had grown up living, including hunting, collecting bush fruits and bush medicine and sharing Jukurrpa (dreaming).
Martha started painting at the Ali Curung Women’s Centre in 2003 before becoming one of the founding artists of Arlpwe Art and Culture Centre in 2008. Her practice draws on experiences going out bush, depicting landscapes which span between Yuendumu and Ali Curung. Martha has developed her own unique style, painting with a loose hand and psychedelic tendency. Martha has exhibited at multiple Desert Mob shows and was a finalist in the 2021 Vincent Lingiari Art Prize.
Rachel Rankine Nangala
Language Groups: Kaytetye, Anmatjere
Rachel Rankine Nagala belongs to the Kaytetye and Anmatjere language groups. She was born in Ali Curung and spent her childhood between split between Ali Curung and 150km South at Anningie Station. In the late 70s, Rachel and her family settled permanently in Ali Curung, and since then she has lived and worked predominantly in Ali Curung and Darwin.
Rachel started painting in the 80s in Ali Curung at the Women’s Centre. She learned to paint by watching her mum; “I used to come along (to the Women’s Centre) and watch all the old ladies painting, but I watched her most and that’s how I got it from her.” In 1992, Rachel went to TAFE college in Cairns where she was briefly enrolled in a visual arts course. “I was supposed to do 3 years, but I ended up doing 1 month cause I had to go back to Darwin, or I’d have to give up the apartment I was renting there.” After that course, Rachel began painting at home in Darwin and spent some time as artist in residence in local galleries.
Rachel started painting with Arlpwe in 2020 and approaches each painting with a calculated professionalism. She keeps books filled with drafts and ideas for new paintings and is always experimenting with different styles and colours. Rachel depicts landscapes and native flora in both abstract and representational styles. Rachel has previously exhibited at multiple Desert Mob exhibitions in Alice Springs.
Maria Dickenson Napanangka
Language Groups: Kaytetye, Alyawarr
Maria Dickenson Napanangka is a Kaytetye and Alyawarr lady who has grown up her whole life in Ali Curung, sans a small stint in Alice Springs during her high school years. She has been painting with Arlpwe since the Art Centre’s inception and today serves as both as a studio technician and as a member of the board of directors.
Maria has always been drawn to landscape painting, predominantly depicting places around Ali Curung, Ampilatwatja and her Mother’s country, Hatches Creek. As her career has progressed, Maria’s depictions of landscapes have become more abstracted and her most recent paintings feature predominantly black and white. These paintings often merge front on and aerial perspectives and are the formed by thousands of small dots, which represent the variety of bush seeds found on Country. Maria has previously exhibited at Arlpwe’s 2022 group show at Fremantle’s Japingka gallery, Off The Beaten Track.
Sarah Holmes Nabangardi
Language Groups: Warlpiri, Warumungu.
Sarah Holmes Nabangardi has painted with Arlpwe since the centre’s inception in 2008. Alongside her sister Jessie, Sarah is, on most days, the first to arrive at the painting studio. This commitment to her practice has seen Sarah delve into a range of styles, eager to experiment across abstract and representational depictions of country and flora, as well as routinely making abstract pieces to experiment with and study colour combinations.
Sarah has found success in the last two years painting the Country around Ali Curung from an aerial perspective. Predominantly utilising white, oxide yellows and gold, Sarah’s fine lines track soakages, floodways and the rolling rhythm of sandhills. Sarah has exhibited in Alice Springs at Desert Mob as well as at Arlpwe’s 2022 group show Off The Beaten Track.
Nancy Long Nungarray
Language Groups: Kaytetye, Warlpiri
Nancy Long Nungarray is a Kaytetye and Warlpiri woman who was born in Ali Curung, “in the old hospital, when we had a big hospital.” Nancy has lived in Ali Curung her whole life and began painting in 2008, the year that Arlpwe Art and Culture Centre was established. “I seen my Mother and Aunty paint and learn from them. Sitting around and looking at them.
Nancy is a guardian of the budgerigar dreaming, “those green birds, green and yellow, out west of Wilowra, my Country.” Her early paintings depicted the budgerigar dreaming, until her father passed. Today, Nancy paints bush medicine, bush seeds and bush tucker. Recently, Nancy has been using soft, hazy brushstrokes to represent the scattered leaves of medicine plants and flowers.
Nancy attends the art centre most days, painting alongside her sister Rene and enjoying the company of friends and family. When she is not painting, Nancy enjoys spending time with her family and walking around Ali Curung.
Taylor Thompson Nungarray
Language Groups: Kaytetye, Alyawarr
Taylor Thompson is a Kaytetye and Alyawarr woman who was born in Alice Springs. She lives with her family at Murray Downs, a station 33km East of Ali Curung and visits Arlpwe to paint when she is in Ali Curung visiting family. She is new to painting, though has a natural patience and precision in her work. She predominantly depicts the leaves of bush flowers and bush medicines that are found around Ali Curung and Murray Downs.
Image of artists shot at Arlpwe Arts and Culture Centre. From left to right: Nancy Long Nungarray, Martha Poulson Nakamarra, Maria Dickenson Napanangka.