The Goanna Hunter

Sand Hills 2006 from Beyond Sacred Painting from Remote Australian Communities  Laverty Collection

Sand Hills 2006 from Beyond Sacred Painting from Remote Australian Communities Laverty Collection

alice trip 073The sad news of Mr Yunupingu – an icon of indigenous music eclipsed the news of the passing of one of my most favourite painters – Dorothy Napangarti. I was shocked to hear that she had died in a car crash in Alice Springs. The news reported that she had been on a goanna hunt, her favourite pastime. I would like to think it would be up there with painting.

I have very little wall space where I am so just the very few have pride of place and it his her work holds that special connection for me. I look at it every night before I go to bed, the small black dots joining my sleep.

alice trip 011When I was in Alice I heard of a reputable gallery and made sure on the last day that I would return to the coast with a work that epitomised the desert. I had been to the gallery on my first day here before heading out to camp and had pretty much made up my mind the work I wanted. I walked in and said I wanted to buy the work, a small beautiful piece. The gallery owner/attendant was impressed that I was so smitten with her work. He asked if a had a little time to spare and got up, locked the gallery and took me out the back, across an alley and up some stairs. It was where Ms Napangarti paints when winter sets in. Laid on the ground beautiful canvases in mid-flight and surrounding the walls photos of her and a huge grin with her family and a goanna dangling firmly from her hand. She looked happy. I hope her goanna hunting brought her as much pleasure as her painting and that little piece of desert dreaming has brought me.

alice trip 116


7 thoughts on “The Goanna Hunter

  1. I had a look at some of her work after reading the above. Very interesting to see so much use of black and white instead of the usual earthy colours.

    I recall a friend from many years ago bought a black and white painting while in Alice Springs in the early 90s. It seemed like a “starscape”. I don’t know who the artist was in that case but I remember how different it was from other indigenous art I’d seen, even though it used similar kinds of dots and symbols. The difference was in the colour.

    • I truly love her work, there is similar black and white works and a lot based on constellations for different dreamings. I was lucky to see both studios-outside and in. Cheers

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