Meet the Artist

Jorna Napurrurla Nelson

Jorna Napurrurla Nelson




Skin name





Yuendumu, NT

Jorna Napurrurla Nelson was born 1928/1932 near Mt Doreen, west of Yuendumu and died in Nyirripi in 2011. A Warlpiri speaker, Jorna lived in both Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community 290 km north-west of Alice Springs in the NT of Australia and sometimes in Nyirripi, an Aboriginal community 160 kms further north-west of Yuendumu.

Mt Doreen is located between Nyirripi and Yuendumu. As a young girl Jorna would have lived a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle with her parents, travelling across desert country and learning all about the country in the traditional way. In 1946 Yuendumu was established , in 1947 a Baptist mission was established there and by 1955, like many of the Warlpiri people, Jorna and her family would have settled in the town. Jorna began painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation in 1987. She painted her mother and father’s Jukurrpa stories, Dreamings which relate directly to her land, its features and the plants and animals that inhabit it. These stories were passed down to her by her parents and their parents before them for millennia. Jorna generally painted stories about sacred sites or about animals and plants which are commonly found in the country surrounding this community. Food and bush tucker are still regularly hunted and collected today and Jorna loved to go out hunting with her family and friends. They would go hunting for goanna, kangarro, snakes, and witchetty grubs as well as bush tucker, such as native currants, bush potato and bush banana.

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