Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa

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Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa aka Mrs Bennett Profile Image

BORN    circa 1935

REGION    Yamari Western Desert

LANGUAGE    Pintupi


“Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa grabbed me tightly by the arm and pulled me closer to her, for an elderly woman her upper body strength is extraordinary.  I was troubled by the expression on her face, she raised her eyebrow and one fierce bright eye stared up at me.  As I turned to escape she pulled me even closer, began to grin and whispered softly into my ear, “Mrs Bennett, number one”.” Trevor Victor Harvey

Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa was born at Yumarra, north of the Docker River, circa 1935. She is the wife of John Bennet who also paints for Papunya Tula Artists.  She was schooled in traditional culture and raised on Pitjantjatjara lands, living in the surrounding area, now known as Docker River, with her immediate family, three sisters Tjunkiya, Kayi Kayi and Edith (Imantura) and a brother John Richards.  It wasn’t until her early teens that she made first contact with the “whitefella”.

Mrs Bennett is a Ngangkari (traditional healer).  When she was young she began to learn song lines so important to the beliefs of her people also to the survival of her race.

She began her artistic career in the mid 1990’s and paints her mother’s dreaming site, Tjalilli rockhole near Tjukurla.  Other sites she paints are Pukara and Mungkara and her favourite, Punkilpirri (Bungabiddy) the large permanent water site noth-west of Docker River, in the Walter James Range.  This mysterious and alluring place is beyond most people’s comprehension.  For those who live comfortably around the coast of Australia this deep unforgiving inland place is harsh, threatening and mostly dry.  It is extremely beautiful.  The Vast Spinifex grasslands, red sands and rugged ancient ranges were home to Mrs Bennett and her nomadic family, they hunted and gathered and listened and told stories that echo their dreamtime.  Her paintings depict the stories relating to the rituals and woman’s ceremonies associated with her homelands, the gathering of traditional bush foods and topographical knowledge of the lands on which her family had lived for thousands of years.

Mrs Bennett’s striking late paintings now favour a stripped down palette, the strong black under painted contour landscape lines contrast with the deep umbers and sandy off white over painting of concentric circles.

Her later paintings depict the main rockhole site of Punkilpirri.  This important rockhole is reached by walking up an ancient valley, past towering walls of rough iron laced stone until you eventually reach the crystal clear water.  Punkilpirri is a rockhole site where Mrs Bennett spent much of her childhood; the cool chasm was an ideal place to seek refuge from the heat of the day and the water kept her family alive during many months when there was no rain.  As a child she would explore the surrounding area with other children from the tribe, play amongst the rocks looking for bird’s nests, dig for honey ants and suck the nectar from the flowers.

When she talks about her paintings and country she becomes animated, her arms moved around her body with rhythmic gestures, her distinctive voice becomes louder and louder until her words turn into song. Those who understand her song, listen silently, intrigued, fascinated and spell bound.

They are now living at the Kintore community.  Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa was named among the top 50 of Australia’s Most Collectable Artists in Australian Art Collector Issue 15 – January – March, 2001.


2006    Yawulyurru kapalilu palyara nintilpayi, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, NT
2006    Paintings By Papunya Tula Artists, Suzanne O’Connell Gallery, Brisbane, QLD
2006    A Particular Collection, Utopia Art Sydney, NSW
2006    Pintubi Dreaming, Red Dot Gallery, Singapore
2006    Land Marks, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Vic
2006    Across The Board, Utopia Art Sydney, NSW
2004    The Inner and the Outer, Stadtgalerie Bamberg, Villa Dessauer, Bamberg, Germany
2004    All About The Papunya, Chapman Gallery, Canberra, ACT
2004    Woolloongabba Art Gallery, Brisbane, QLD
2004    Works From Kintore and Kiwirrkura, Alison Kelly Gallery, Melbourne, Vic
2004    Kuniya Pilkati, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, Vic
2003    Christmas Gift Exhibition, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne,
2003    Pintupi Art From The Western Desert, Indigenart, Subiaco,
2003    Aboriginal Art 2003, Scott Livesey Art Dealer, Melbourne, Vic
2002    Next Generation – Aboriginal Art 2002, Art House Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2002    Paintings From Our country, Tony Bond Aboriginal Art Dealer, Adelaide, SA
2002    Twenty Five Years and Beyond – Papunya Tula Painting, Academy of the Arts, University of Tasmania, Tasmania
2002    Twenty Five Years and Beyond – Papunya Tula Painting, Brisbane City   Gallery, QLD
2002    Scott Livesey Art Dealer, Melbourne, Vic
2002    Pintupi Mens’ and Womens’ Stories, Indigenart, Subiaco, WA
2002    Pintupi Artists, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, NT
2001    Palm Beach Art Fair, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
2001    Art House Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2001    Papunya Tula 2001, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne,
2001    Art of the Pintupi, Tony Bond Aboriginal Art Dealer, Adelaide, SA
2001    Papunya Tula Women, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne,
2001    Twenty Five Years and Beyond Papunya Tula Painting, The Araluen Centre, Alice Springs
2001    Indigenart, Subiaco, WA
2001    Pintupi Exhibition, Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, NT
2001    Pintupi Women From Kintore, Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane,
2001    Size Doesn’t Matter, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne,
2000    Utopia Art, Sydney, NSW
2000    Aboriginal Art, Aboriginal Art Gallerie Bahr, Speyer, Germany
2000    Aboriginal Art 2000, Scott Livesey Gallery, Armadale, Vic
2000    Papunya Tula – Genesis and Genius, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
2000    17th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin, NT
2000    Framed Gallery, Darwin, NT
2000    Pintupi Women – Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs, NT


Aboriginal Art Museum, The Netherlands
Art Bank, Sydney
Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Homes a Court Collection, Perth
Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, USA
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
National Museum of Australia
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane