Nancy Nyanjilpayi Chapman Martumili Artists

The Artist Says:

"When I was born my spirit appeared at Jarntinti. That's my Country, Jarntinti. I know all about it, about that water over there, about my home, our grandparent's Country. We travelled all around as pujiman, camping and then setting off again by foot. We didn't get tired. We just kept on going. Sometimes it would rain, so we would build a shelter, just like a tent. Inside we would light a fire. Our pujiman lifestyle was very healthy and we didn't get sick very often. Even when it was cold we continued to walk around in good health.

I'm working on my painting of those waterholes, I was drinking from them long ago as a pujiman. My family's water, my grandmother's, my grandfathers and my ancestors. I was taught from them. Our knowledge is ancient and has been passed on by our grandparents. Young people need to keep looking after it."

– Nyanjilpayi (Ngarnjapayi) Nancy Chapman as translated by Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa


Pirrkili is a rockhole surrounded in all directions by permanent tali (sandhills), located east of Nyayartakujarra (Lake Dora) and south of Punmu Aboriginal community. Linyji (claypans) such as Pirrkili were traditionally visited more often during the wantajarra (wet season) when they were filled with water. 

This site lies within Nyanjilpayi’s ngurra (home Country, camp) through her uncle and grandmother, and forms part of the area which she knew intimately and travelled extensively in her youth.

The Western Desert term ‘ngurra’ is hugely versatile in application. Broadly denoting birthplace and belonging, ngurra can refer to a body of water, a camp site, a large area of Country, or even a modern house. People identify with their ngurra in terms of specific rights and responsibilities, and the possession of intimate knowledge of the physical and cultural properties of one’s Country. This knowledge is traditionally passed intergenerationally through family connections. Country for Martu is full of memory; not just the memory of their own movement through it, but also of their family. 

Painting ngurra, and in so doing sharing the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) stories and physical characteristics of that place, has today become an important means of cultural maintenance. Physical maintenance of one’s ngurra, like cultural maintenance, ensures a site’s wellbeing, and is a responsibility of the people belonging to that area.