Ngapa, Underground Water (Black & White) - JANET LONG NAKAMARRA : Walpiri Aboriginal Art SIZE: 33cm x 44cm
ARTISTS: JANET LONG NAKAMARRA
LANGUAGE Group: Nakamarra / Napangardi
COUNTRY/Region: Willowra north Central Desert
TITLE: Ngapa - Underground Water
MEDIUM: Painting - acrylic on canvas
This painting is about the underground water (shallow aquifers) system near Warntaparri and the soakages. The circles represent the waterholes and the trail dot dots the below surface water flow particular to that area and watersoak. Each watersoak is remembered over the generations and which ones dry up first is also important carried knowledge. In the old days the clans dug out the wet soakage area for ngapa (fresh water). When they first arrived at the known soak they'd first dig out the top layer of soil then cover the area with branches and grasses to suppress all the sediment. By morning the filtered water would be clean and fresh.
They collect the water with coolamons (carved out wooden bowl) to take hunting or to get them through to the next waterhole. When the waterhole dried up, they would move on to the next one. Ngapa is essential survival knowledge for everyone in the central Australian desert and arid regions.
The seed rows on top show where the underground water creek bed is and the direction of the the underground flow. The green of plants indicates where the flow leads so as it's easier to follow the water flows.
Janet was born in 1960 at Anninie in the traditional land of her people, Warntaparri. She lived a traditional life with her family and her Aunts May and Molly Napurulla showing her how to paint the traditional body paint designs for her Warntaparri Dreaming.
Through hard work and study, Janet gained the status of Linguist with her people and began to teach as a literacy worker at the Willowra School. She produced bi-lingual literature for use in the teaching programme. Although she has lived all her life in Willowra her linguist talents led her to many contacts with the rest of Australia. When Vivien Johnson began to write her book “Aboriginal Artists of the Western Desert” it was Janet she approached to do the transaction and correct any terms that were in the book.
In 1989 she began to paint her designs and Dreamings on small boards when the local store at Willowra began supplying canvas and paints to the locals Aboriginal Artists. When her brother Malcolm Jagamarra saw her taking an interest in painting he taught her how to use the medium of acrylics on canvas. She saw this as a way of teaching people about her culture and the world as a whole.
She uses her deep knowledge of her talents as a linguist and translates her Dreamings onto canvas in a way that no other artist is able to achieve. Her paintings have many small details in them that tell a story as a whole. The story that she writes for the paintings is as fascinating as the painting itself. These stories tell of the mythology and religion of her people in a way that any outsider can understand and learn from. Although she is a relative newcomer to the world as a artist, her work is gaining rapid recognition. She has exhibited at the Parker Gallery in Sydney, Jinta Desert Art in Sydney and the Fireworks Gallery in Brisbane. She recently featured in a group exhibition at Wagner Gallery Hong Kong. With the interests that her work has developed, it will not be long before she is featured in many private and public collections around the world
- 1998, "Out of Australia", Lui Hai-Su National Art Museum, Shanghai, China
- Holdsworth Gallery, Sydney
- Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane
- Wagner Gallery, Hong Kong
- 1999, United Nations, New York, USA
See more information on Janet Long in her Collections folder.