- Title: Pamapardu Jukurrpa (Flying Ant Dreaming/Creation Story
- Medium: Acrylic on pre-primed cotton canvas, stretched
- Year: 2023
- Size: XX cm
- Artist skin name: Nampijinpa
- Language group: Warlpiri
- Community: Yuendumu, NT
- Artwork certificate provided
This painting depicts the Pamapardu Jukurrpa (Flying Ant Creation Story or Dreaming) from Wapurtali, west of Yuendumu. ‘Pamapardu’ is the Warlpiri name for the flying ants or termites that build the large anthills found throughout Warlpiri country. This country belongs to Nakamarra/Napurrurla women and Jakamarra/Jupurrurla men. ‘Pamapardu’ are flying ants. They build earth mounds (‘mingkirri’) that are common in the Tanami Desert area.
When heavy rains come in summer the ‘mingkirri’ get flooded out, so the ‘pamapardu’ grow wings and fly off to make new homes, following their queens to dry mounds or to build a new one. When they have found their new home they drop their wings outside before entering. In this stage they can be collected, lightly cooked in coals and eaten. As they fall to the ground women collect them to eat because they are nice and sweet. In contemporary Warlpiri paintings traditional iconography is used to represent the Jukurrpa, particular sites and other elements.
When this Jukurrpa story is painted concentric circles are used to represent the ‘mingkirri’ and the rockholes created by the ancestors involved in the story, including the central one at Wapurtali (Mt Singleton).
Maria Brown Biography
Maria Nampijinpa Brown was born in Alice Springs Hospital, the closest hospital to Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community, 290 km from Alice Springs in the NT of Australia. She is the daughter of Wendy Nungarrayi Brown and grand-daughter of Paddy Japaljarri Sims (dec.) one of the founding artists of Warlukurlangu Artists and Bessie Nakamarra Sims (dec.), a successful artist in her own right. When she was little she would watch her mother and her grandparents paint and listen to their stories. She is widowed, lives in Yuendumu and has two daughters, Antoinette Napanangka Brown who also paints with the art centre and Alicka Napanangka Brown.
Maria has been painting with the Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre, since 1995. She paints her parents and her grandparents Jukurrpa stories, stories that have been passed down through the generations for millennia. These stories relate to the artists traditional country northwest of Nyirirpi, a settlement 160 kms west of Yuendumu. Maria uses traditional iconography, while developing a modern individualistic style to depict her traditional Jukurrpa. She is an innovative and thoughtful artist. When Maria is not painting she likes to tell stories to her grandchildren, hunt for honey ants when it is raining, and collect firewood for cooking kangaroo tails.
The director of Songlines, Felicity Wright (aka Nangala), was the first manager of Warlukurlangu Artists from 1986-88 and is well known to the Sims/Brown family. Living and working on Warlpiri country and learning the language and stories was a huge privilege and changed her perspective on the world. The Warlpiris introduced her to Indigenous ways of seeing and being in the world. The old men and women ‘grew her up’. Maria remembers seeing ‘Nangala’ when she was a child living in West Camp in Yuendumu. She maintains strong connections with the Warlpiri families. When Maria visits Darwin she chooses to bring her artworks to Songlines.