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About This Artist


Janet Long Nakamarra was born at Anningie Station, north west of Alice Springs NT. After leaving school she assisted Elders in the production of books in Warlpiri while studying to be a teacher the most important of these 'Warlpiri Women's Voices' was translated into English and Warlpiri.

Janet began painting her dreaming stories in 1989, and in 2003 after a period of 'women's law', Elder Warlpiri women gave her the right to paint stories about their Water Dreaming. Her exhibition with Coo-ee Gallery celebrates her initiation in to this Dreaming with a series beautifully executed, highly individualised, intricate images about water and its ritual and economic importance to Warlpiri people.

Many layered in meaning; these works are based on tribal rain making ceremonies and embody the story of the Ancestral Dreaming Spirit of the Rain. They refer to his adventures in the Warlpiri Country during Creation times. As such they are important to tribal knowledge in the location of water and express symbolically the physical manifestations of the coming of rain as hail/ rain and its flow underground. When rain comes to the Tanami Desert it floods rivers, billabongs, lagoons and then soakages. The Warlpiri used to live next to the soakages until they dried up. When there was no water on the surface they would dig holes to tap the underground streams.

In these startlingly detailed and intricate paintings, long sinuous lines articulate the canvas flowing from one end to another, or from the centre to each corner. The artist cleverly evokes topography and the location of water sites, amongst a network of rivulets, streams, and rivers and their tributaries along its course. What Janet Nakamarra gives us is a symbolic impression of what we would see if we peeled back the dry desert cover - patterns of interconnecting underground rivers as they traverse the country.