View full screen - View 1 of Lot 72. Untitled (Women's birthing site of Wirrulnga), 2003.
72

Ningura Napurrula

Untitled (Women's birthing site of Wirrulnga), 2003

Ningura Napurrula

Ningura Napurrula

Untitled (Women's birthing site of Wirrulnga), 2003

Untitled (Women's birthing site of Wirrulnga), 2003

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Ningura Napurrula

Circa 1938 - 2013

Untitled (Women's birthing site of Wirrulnga), 2003


Synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen

Bears artist's name and Papunya Tula Artists catalogue number NN 0310339 on the reverse

72 in by 96 in (183 by 244 cm)

The painting is unframed and stretched with a high-quality keyed stretcher. The painting is in excellent condition with no repairs or restoration and very minor scuffing to the edges and corners.


In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD “AS IS” IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.

Painted at Kintore, Northern Territory in 2003
Papunya Tula Artists, Alice Springs
Private Collection

This painting is sold with accompanying Pupanya Tula Artist's documentation with descriptive notes that read in part, "The larger roundels in this painting depict Wirrulnga, a rockhole site in a small rocky outcrop, east of the Kiwirrkura Community. A number of women camped here before continuing their travels east. Wirrulnga is associated with birth. A pregnant woman of the Napaltjarri kinship subsection who was travelling with the group gave birth at the site. The arc shapes in the work are the sandhills surrounding the area. Also shown are a creek and edible berries known as kampurarrpa or desert raisin from the small shrub Solanum centrale, and pura or bush tomato from the shrub Solanum chippendalei. These are represented by the small roundels in the work."


See Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana, eds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: Collection Highlights, Canberra, 2010, p.63, for another example by the artist of the same dimensions, painted in 2006, held in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.


The inspiration for Ningura Napurrula’s large-scale works are the great narratives of ancestral Kanaputa Women as they journey through the landscape of what is now known as the Western Desert regions of Central Australia. These ancient stories encapsulate the songs and ceremonies the women performed thereby creating and shaping the landscape.  


The bold iconography of Wirrulnga, 2003 maps the rockhole site of Wirrulnga, just east of the community of Kiwirrukurra in Western Australia. Wirrulnga sits within a dramatic rocky outcrop surrounded by rolling sandhills and desert flora. It is a traditional birthing site for women of the Napaltjarri kinship subsection. The small arc shapes depicting the sandhills are reminiscent of the marks that have been painted on the contours of women’s shoulders and breasts for millennia. The rockhole is represented by the large concentric circles, and the twisting sinuous lines depicts the nearby creek. The women had travelled from the nearby sites of Marrapinti and Ngami. After the ancestral Napaltjarri woman had given birth at Wirrulnga they continued their journey to large salt lake of Wilkinkarra (Lake MacKay). 

The clustered circles in this painting depict the edible berries known as kampurarrpa (desert raisin, Solanum centrale) and pura (desert tomato, Solanum chippendalei). These bush foods were collected by the women throughout their journey, and continue to be a staple food of Aboriginal people in this region of the Australian desert.

Born circa 1938 at Watulka near the Kiwirrkurra community in Western Australia, Ningura was one of the founding women artists from the Walangurru (Kintore) community in the Western Desert of the Northern Territory. A bold woman, her diminutive stature always sat in contrast to the large works she would sit atop of to decorate with unequivocal purpose. In 2006 Ningura was one of eight Australian Indigenous artists to have their work incorporated into the architecture of the musée du quai Branly in Paris.


Luke Scholes


Luke Scholes is former curator of Aboriginal art at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. He has curated multiple award-winning exhibitions and written extensively about Aboriginal art.