Miinya Jukurrpa, Native Fushia by Paddy Stewart Japaljarri

Paddy Stewart Japaljarri 'Ngarlu' Love Story 153 x 91cm.jpg
Paddy Stewart Japaljarri 'Ngarlu' Love Story 153 x 91cm.jpg

Miinya Jukurrpa, Native Fushia by Paddy Stewart Japaljarri


Paddy Stewart Japaljarri  1940 - 2013 

Acrylic on canvas

153 x 91cm

©Paddy Stewart Japaljarri/Warlukurlangu Aboriginal Artists Association

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This story is based at Ngarlu, east of Yuendumu near Mount Allen.  Yanyirlingi is a medium sized bush that bears pink flowers and is a species of Eremophila.  The flowers have a small reservoir of nectar that is collected by honey ants and eaten by humans.  Napangardi and Nungarrayi women collect the sweet nectar from the pink flowered plant. This story is part of a longer Dreaming from Ngarlu and goes as follows : 

The Dreaming site of Miinypa or Yanylingi is Ngarlu, meaning 'red rock', country east of Yuendumu.  A Jungarrayi man called Lilipinti who lived ar Ngarlu fell in love with a Napangardi woman, a tabu relation as the woman was his skin mother-in-law.  This relation is forbidden to him under the Warlpiri skin system. Lilipinti fell in love witht he Napangardi woman when he saw her making a hole in the ground and urinating. Lilipinti was very impressed and aroused by this and began to wonder how he could win over the Napangardi woman.  He went to Ngarlu and he spun hair string for her, singing love magic songs as he worked.  The Napangardi woman could not sleep and felt strange in her stomach, she felt sick.  She realised that someone was singing for her.  A little bird visited her every day taking the Jungarrayi's songs to her.  That bird can still be heard sometimes in the bush  - it helps people find certain bush foods. It also talks to people when they are lonely, sad or in danger.  The lines on the canvas represent the force of the love magic song pulling the Napangardi woman to Lilipinti.  When the two lovers met again and made love, they turned to stone, as their relationship was tabu in the Warlpiri People's skin system.  The palce were they turned to stone can still be seen at Ngarlu today.  The concentric circles in the painting depict Miinypa or Yanyirlingi, (native fuschia), a plant with small red flowers.  During this Jukurrpa women from Ngarlu who gossiped about the wrong skin love union turned into these flowers.  The flowers have honey inside, they are delicious to eat, tasting like ice-cream.  Ngarlu is a sacred place where Miinypa or Yanyirlingi are still commonly found today.       Text © and courtesy of Warlukurlangu Aboriginal Arts Association

Paddy Japaljarri Stewart was from Mungapunju, south of Yuendumu and a Chairman of the Warlukurlangu Artists Committee.

Stewart was one of the artists who contributed to the historic Honey Ant Dreaming mural on the Papunya school wall in 1971 - the very genesis of the modern Aboriginal art movement.

The people of Yuendumu in the early 1980s began transferring their traditional ochre ground paintings to canvas.  In 1983, Stewart along with four other artist painted thirty of the Yuendumu Schooldoors with Dreaming designs, negotiating the content with other Warlpiri men and women who also collectively owned the designs. Twenty-seven Dreamings (tjukurrpa) were represented on the Doors, referring to more than two hundred sites in Warlpiri and Anmatyerre territory.

The painted Doors were also intended to remind the Yuendumu schoolchildren of a web of sites and obligations extending across their country. The Doors remained at Yuendumu, resisting erasure for twelve years despite the desert wind and sun, and robust treatment from Warlpiri schoolchildren.

The entire series of Yuendumu Doors was acquired by the South Australian Museum in 1995 and then restored. Twelve of the best doors were selected for a traveling exhibition that toured Australia for three years; the Yuendumu Doors are now at the South Australian Museum.

Warlukurlangu artists have become known for for their vibrant palette which in recent years has encompassed an extraordinary range of colours - from hot fuschia, mauve and electric blue to marigold yellow and tangerine orange.

There is a stylistic similarity between many of the artists’ works, but there are also artists whose work is highly individual, such as Judy Napangardi Watson, Jack Jakamarra Ross, Polly Napangardi Watson, Clarise Nampijinpa Poulson, Paddy Japaljarri Sims and Paddy Japaljarri Stewart.

In May 1989, Stewart traveled to Paris to create a ground installation at the Centre Georges Pompidou for the "Magiciens de la Terre exhibition which received world acclaim.

In 2004 Stuart Macintyre wrote in a "A concise history of Australia' that Paddy Japaljarri Stewart recorded his testimony in his own language in 1991. "He evokes the continuity of dreaming from Grandfather and father to son and grandson, down the generations and across the passages of time; yet the insistence on the obligation to preserve and transmit his three jukurrpass attest to the corrosive possibility of secular change. He goes on to aver that the maintenance of Dreaming has to be really strict', so that his family will not lose it like paper, or throw it away or give it away to other families.

"My father's grandfather taught me first, and after a while my father taught me the same way as his father told jukurrpa [Dreaming], and then my father is telling the same story about what his father told him and now he is teaching me to live the same kind of jukurrpa and follow the way what my grandfather did, and then teach what my father did, and then I'm going to teach my grandchildren the same way as my father taught me. When my father was alive this is what he taught me. He taught me the traditional ways like the traditional deigns in body or head of kangaroo Dreaming (that's what we call marlu Dreaming) and eagle Dreaming. He taught me to sing song for the big ceremonies. People who are related to us in a close family, they have to have the same sort of jukurrpa Dreaming, and to sing songs in the same way tht we do our actions like dancing, and painting on our bodies or shields or things, and this is what my father taught me. My dreaming is the kangaroo dreaming, the Eagle Dreaming and the budgerigar Dreaming, so I have three kinds of Dreaming in my jukurrpa and I have to hang onto it. This is what my father taught me, and this is what I have to teach my sons the same way my father taught me, and thats way it will go on from grandparent to sons, and follow that jukurrpa. No-one knows when it will end."

Early in his life he worked as a chef in Papunya, and since retained his nickname 'Cookie'. Japaljarri's work is one of the most plagued by fake copies, and was centre to one of the first art forgery cases to be heard in Australia. He is also one of the first Aboriginal artists to achieve a high international profile in the late 1980s.

In 1995, the Canberra Medical Society, specifically Dr Martin Duncan and Dr Cam Webber went to the remote Yuendumu settlement where they removed cataracts from five Aboriginal artists including Stewart who had one of the most difficult conditions.

In 2001 Stewart and Paddy Japaljarri Sims, won the TELSTRA WORK ON PAPER AWARD from the The National Aboriginal Art Award (now Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, NATSIAA).


National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Adelaide

Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht

South Australian Museum

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

Art Gallery and Museum, Kelvin Grove, Glasgow, Scotland

Flinders University Art Museum, South Australia

Gordon Darling Foundation, Canberra

Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin

Seattle Art Museum, U.S.A.