Shorty Jangala Robertson

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BORN    circa 1925

REGION    Yuendumu

LANGUAGE    Warlpiri


Shorty Jangala Robertson was born at Jila (Chilla Well), a large soakage and claypan north-west of Yuendumu. He lived a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle with his parents, older brother and extended Warlpiri family. They travelled vast distances across desert country, passing through Warlukurlangu, south west of Jila and Ngarlikurlangu, and north of Yuendumu, visiting Jangala’s skin brothers.

Shorty’s childhood memories consist of stories associated with the Coniston massacre of Aboriginal people and the shooting of families at Wantaparri, which is close to Jila. Shorty had virtually no contact with white fellas during his youth but remembers leaving Jila for Mt Theo ‘to hide’ from being shot. After his father died at Mt Theo, Shorty moved with his mother to Mt Doreen Station, and subsequently the new settlement of Yuendumu.

During World War II, the army took people from Yuendumu to the other Warlpiri settlement at Lajamanu. Shorty was taken and separated from his mother however she came to get him on foot and together they traveled hundreds of miles back to Chilla Well. Drought food and medical supplies forced Shorty and his family back to Yuendumu from time to time. His working life was full of adventure and hard work for different enterprises in the Alice Springs Yuendumu area. He finally settled at Yuendumu in 1967 after the Australian Citizen Referendum.

It is extraordinary that in all his travels and jobs over his whole working life, Shorty escaped the burgeoning and flourishing Central Desert art movement of the 1970s and 1980s. Thus Shorty’s paintings are fresh, vigorous and new. His use of colour to paint and interpret his dreamings of Ngapa (Water), Watiyawarnu (Acacia), Yankirri (Emu) and Pamapardu (Flying Ant) is vital, yet upholding the Warlpiri tradition. This accomplished artist is an active member of Warlukurlangu Co operative. He lives at Yuendumu with his wife and artist Lady Nungarrayi Robertson.


2003    First Solo Exhibition, A November lcaston Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
2004    Coo-ee, Sydney, NSW
2005    Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
2005    Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs, NT
2006    Shorty Jangala Robertson, Coo-ee, Sydney, NSW
2007    Singing the rain, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
2011    Shorty Jangala Robertson, Kate Owen Gallery, NSW


2002    Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC
2003    Warlukurlangu Artists’, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
2003    All About Art’, Alcaston Gallery at Depot Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2003    Kurruwarri Pipangka Designs on Paper’ CDU Gallery, Charles Darwin University NT
2004    Desert Mob’ Alice Springs Cultural Precinct, Araluen Arts Centre, NT
2004    Painting Country’, Thornquest Gallery, QLD
2004    Dreaming Stories’, Indigenart, Perth, WA
2004    New Works from Yuendumu’, Bellas Gallery, Brisbane, QLD
2004    Big Country’ Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs, NT
2004    All About Art ‘ Annual Collectors Exhibition’, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
2004    Recent Works from Warlakurlangu’, Hogarth Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2004    The Alice Prize’, Araluen Cultural Precinct, Alice Springs, NT
2005    Warlukurlangu Group Show’, Beaver Gallery, Canberra, ACT
2005    WAAA Collection’ Flinders Museum Adelaide, SA
2005    Warlukurlangu Collection’, Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT
2005    Jukurrpa Wiri ‘Important Dreaming Stories’ Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT
2005    Recent Works’, Short Street Gallery, Broome, WA
2005    Luminous’, Northern Editions, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT
2005    Big Country Exhibition’, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs, NT
2005    Land of Diversity’, Hogarth Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2006    Warlukurlangu Artists New Works’, Hogarth Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2006    Warlukurlangu Artists – Recent Works’, Mason Gallery, Darwin, NT
2006    Warlpiri Artists of Yuendumu’, Japingka Gallery, WA
2006    Summer Evening’, Anne Snell Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2007    Warlukurlangu – Aboriginal Art aus Yuendumu’, ArtKelch, Freiburg, Germany
2007    Tiwa Ngurrara, Strangers?’ Artkelch, Freiburg, Germany
2007    Desert Mob’, Baguette Gallery, Brisbane, QLD, in conjunction with Suzanne O’Connell Gallery May
2007    Yuendumu & Kimberley, Twin Indigenous Show’, United Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2007    Couples, painting partners from Yuendumu & Nyirrpi’, Gadfly Gallery, Perth, WA
2007    Desert Dreamings: earth + water’, Artitja Fine Art, Perth, WA
2007    Shalom Gamarada Aboriginal Art Exhibition’, Shalom College, Sydney, NSW
2007    Water for Life’, Victorian Artists Society, World Vision Exhibition, Melbourne, VIC
2007    Above and Beyond’, Caruana & Reid Fine Art, Sydney, NSW
2007    Contemporary Masters of the Central Desert’, SF Fine Art, Sydney, NSW
2007    Above & Beyond’, Caruana Fine Art & Reid Mercantile, Sydney, NSW
2007    The Best of the Best jewels of the desert’, Framed Gallery, Darwin NT
2007    SIPA’, Seoul International Print, Photo & Edition Works Art Fair, Southern Exchange, S Korea
2007    ‘Australian Aboriginal Artists from the Central Desert’, Jeffrey Moose Gallery, Seattle WA, USA November
2007    Tiwa Ngurrara, Strangers?’, Artkelch, Freiburg, Germany
2007    Aboriginal Printmakers NT & QLD’, Framed Gallery, Darwin
2007    Stocking’, Artereal, Sydney, NSW
2007    The Christmas Show’, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs NT
2007    Warlukurlangu Artists’, Hogarth Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2008    Les couleurs du desert australien’, L’Antidote, Geneva, Switzerland
2008    Desert Mob, Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs, NT
2008    Aboriginal Art aus der Central und Western Desert’, ArtKelch, Germany
2008    Artists of Nyirripi & Yuendumu’, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle, WA
2008    Warlukurlangu Artists, the art of Yuendumu’, La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art, Bahrain UAE
2008    Opening Doors into Colourful Dreamtime, ReDot Gallery, Singapore
2008    Shalom Gamarada Aboriginal Art Exhibition, Caspary Conference Centre, Sydney, NSW
2008    Representations of Country, Artitja Fine Art, Perth, WA
2008    Warlukurlangu Artists, Established & Emerging Artists, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, NSW
2008    New Directions, Gecko Gallery, Broome, WA
2008    Bush Tucker 08, Arereal Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2008    Desert Stories, Artitja Fine Art, Perth, WA
2008    Warlukurlangu Artists’, Beaver Gallery, Canberra, ACT
2008    Warlukurlangu Wonders’, Warlpiri Paintings from Yuendumu, Art Mob, Tasmania
2009    Nyirripi & Yuendumu Artists’, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle, WA
2009    Value of Country, ArtKelch, Freiburg, Germany
2009    Centred Art, Rotterdam, Netherlands
2010    Exposition d’art aborigene d’Australie, IDAIA and Galerie Princesse de Kiev, France


Araluen Cultural Precinct, Alice Springs
Araluen Cultural Precinct, Alice Springs
Artbank, Sydney, NSW
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Flinders University Art Museum, Melbourne
Gordon Darling Foundation, Canberra
Private Collections


2006 ‘Football from Australia’s heart’, National Indigenous Times, Issue 29, vol. 2, April 16, 2003, p. 21