Country: Haasts Bluff, Northern Territory
Dates: c1945 – 2019
Mitjili was born in Haasts Bluff and her mother was the artist, Tjunkiya Napaltjarri, who taught Mitjili the traditional symbolic language and would relate mythical stories by drawing them in the sand. Mitjili’s brother was Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula, one of the founding artists of Papunya Tula Artists and the Western Desert art movement.
Tjunkiya Napaltjarri, her daughter, Mitjili and their extended family settled in Papunya.
Mitjili married Long Tom Tjapanangka and they moved to Haasts Bluff as part of the 1980’s outstation movement where they were both to become renowned and individualistic artists.
Mitjili began painting in 1993 in the Ikuntji Women’s Centre and, through her distinctive style anchored in the Tjukurrpa of her Ancestors, soon became one of its prominent artists. Her motifs represent the women’s side of the Tjukurrpa, Watiya Tjuta, making spears from the desert oak (Watiya Tjuta), at her father’s country of Uwalki in the Gibson desert, as taught to Mitjili by her mother.
Like her brother, Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula who was famous for Spear Straightening paintings, Mitjili inherited the right to paint the plants and places notably the Watiya Tjuta, connected to the Ancestors spear cutting and straightening around Uwalki.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Art Gallery of New South Wales
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Flinders University Art Museum, South Australia
Isaacs, Jennifer, Spirit Country, Hardie Grant Books, 1999.
Ikuntji, Paintings from Haasts Bluff 1992 – 1994, IAD Press, 1995