Learning Resource

A painting made up of organic horizontal lines in dark earthy colours

Mantua Nangala
Various works


Mantua Nangala, Pintupi people, Untitled, 2019; Untitled, 2020; Untitled, 2021, commissioned by the National Gallery of Australia, Kamberri/Canberra for the 4th National Indigenous Art Triennial: Ceremony on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of Papunya Tula Artists, and with the support of Sue Dyer and Steve Dyer. Purchased 2021.

These paintings depict Mantua Nangala’s intimate connection with Country and stories about her homelands.

Using a fine dotting technique, Nangala’s immense canvases evoke the tali (rolling sand dunes) of her Country in the area surrounding Kiwirrkurra, Western Australia. The vast scale of the Gibson Desert is captured through a unique optical technique that makes the paintings appear to shimmer before the viewer’s eyes, suggesting the play of light and wind across the sand’s surface.

These images of Country are filled with Tjukurrpa (ancestral stories) that have been passed down over many generations. Among the stories are the journeys that the ancestral Kanaputa women took through Nangala’s Country, travelling eastwards through the significant women’s sites of Mukula, Marrapinti and Yunala.

What do you notice first in these paintings?

What do they make you think about?

Think of a place outside that you know very well, it might be somewhere you go with your friends or family.

What kind of place is it?  What can you smell, taste, hear, feel and see?

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this place?

Think of an action or movement with your body to represent this idea. It might be small, using just one finger, or it might be big using your whole body. Keep repeating this action or movement, looking around at those near you – how are they moving?

How are they telling you the story of their place?

From the Audio Tour:

Mantua Nangala on her works in Ceremony

Important that we look after dream and countryside, that’s why [I’m] drawing it, on country, Tjukurpa, in canvas.

Palaya, I like a colour, you know. Nice one, Walya, Walya, good colour.

My Tjukurpa is strong. That’s why I [am] keeping it in singing.

The story that I paint is Marrapinti. It is a sacred woman’s place that is my Ngurra (Country); it is a very important place for my people. I like to have colours that are close but are a little bit different. When you look at the canvas you can see movement, I like the way it changes over the canvas. I like to make my paintings slowly, every dot slowly and carefully. When I paint I’m thinking about my Country and my family, it is very relaxing for me and makes me feel good. Palya.

— Mantua Nangala, 2021