Michael Nelson Jagamarra

One of Central Australia's Grand Old Masters and highly respected artists


Michael Nelson Jagamarra 

Born:               1945	
Region:             Pikilyi  (Vaughan Springs) Western Desert
Community:   Papunya
Country:            Mt Singleton, Pikilyi	
Language Bloc:      Warlpiri, Luritja
Social Affiliations:Jakamarra subsection

Subjects and Themes:	
Possum, Snake, Two Kangaroos, Flying Ant, Yam, Rainbow Serpents.

1984, 	First Prize, Inaugural National Aboriginal Art Award, 
	Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences, Darwin;
1993, 	Visual Arts/Crafts Board Fellowship; 

1987, 	Sydney Opera House, 27 foot long painting, for foyer;
1988, 	designer of Mosaic for forecourt of new Parliament House, Canberra; 
1989, 	BMW Art Car Project, painted M3 Racing Car

Parliament House in Canberra. (Photo: Michael Nelson Jagamarra. By Vivien Johnson) Aboriginal art can now be seen in our capital city in a form in which it is both useful and permanent. The granite mosaic pavement in the open forecourt of the new Parliament House in Canberra was designed by Michael Nelson Tjakamarra. It represents our ancient continent and our oldest civilisation.
Collections: Artbank, Sydney. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth. Australian Museum, Sydney. Broken Hill Art Gallery. Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra. Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane. The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth. The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, U.S.A. Exhibitions: Individual Exhibitions: 1989, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne; 1990, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne; Exhibitions: 1984, Papunya and Beyond, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs; 1984, The First National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the NT, Darwin; 1985, The Face of the Centre: Papunya Tula Paintings 1971-1984, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. 1986, The Biennale of Sydney, Sydney; 1986, Roar Studios, Melbourne; 1987, State of the art: ideas & images of the 1980's, Institute of Contemporary Art, London. 1987, The Fourth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the NT, Darwin; 1987, Papunya Tula:1982-1983, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne; 1988, Dreamings: the art of Aboriginal Australia, The Asia Society Galleries, New York. 1989, Papunya Tula: Contemporary Paintings from Australia's Western Desert, John Weber Gallery, New York, USA. 1989, Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City; 1989, A Myriad of Dreaming: Twentieth Century Aboriginal Art, Westpac Gallery, Melbourne; Design Warehouse Sydney [through Lauraine Diggins Fine Art] 1989, Aboriginal Art: The Continuing Tradition, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; 1989, Windows on the Dreaming, Australian National Gallery, Canberra; 1990, National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome; 1990, Balance 1990: views, visions, influences, QAG, Brisbane 1991, Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, High Court, Canberra; 1991, Flash Pictures, National Gallery of Australia; 1991, The Painted Dream: Contemporary Aboriginal Paintings from the Tim and Vivien Johnson Collection, Auckland City Art Gallery and Te Whare Taonga o Aoteroa National Art Gallery, New Zealand; 1991, Alice to Penzance, The Mall Galleries, The Mall, London; 1992, Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs; 1992, Crossroads-Towards a New Reality, Aboriginal Art from Australia, National Museums of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo; 1993, Aboriginal Art Exhibition, Kung Gubunga,Oasis Gallery, Broadbeach,Qld; 1993, Tjukurrpa, Desert Dreamings, Aboriginal Art from Central Australia (1971-1993), Art Gallery of WA, Perth WA; 1993/4, ARATJARA, Art of the First Australians, Touring: Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf; Hayward Gallery, London; Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark Select Bibliography: Brody, A., 1985, The face of the centre: Papunya Tula paintings 1971-1984, NGV, Melbourne. Caruana, W., 1987, Australian Aboriginal Art, a Souvenir Book of Aboriginal Art in the Australian National Gallery, Australian National Gallery, Parkes, Australian Capital Territory. (C) Caruana, W. (ed.), 1989, Windows on the Dreaming, Ellsyd Press, Sydney. (C) Caruana, W., 1993, Aboriginal Art, Thames and Hudson, London. (C) Chanin, E., 1990, (ed.), Contemporary Australian Painting, Craftsman House, Roseville, NSW, Australia. Cochrane, G., 1992, The Crafts Movement in Australia: a History, New South Wales University Press, Kensington, NSW. (C) Crumlin, R., (ed.), 1991, Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, Collins Dove, North Blackburn, Victoria. (C) Diggins, L. (ed.), 1989, A Myriad of Dreaming: Twentieth Century Aboriginal Art, exhib. cat., Malakoff Fine Art Press, North Caulfield, Victoria. Johnson, V., 1989, 'Running trees,' Tension 17, 52-55. (C) Johnson, V., 1988, Among Others: Reply to 'Black Canberra', Art & Text 30, September-November, 1988 Johnson, V., 1994, The Dictionary of Western Desert Artists, Craftsman House, East Roseville, New South Wales. (C) Kleinert, S., 1988, Black Canberra, Art & Text 29, June-August 1988 ; Langton, M., 1992-93 'The two women looked back over their shoulders & lamented leaving their country: detached comment (recent urban) & symbolic narrative (traditional),' Aboriginal Art in the Public Eye, Art Monthly Australia Supplement, 7-9. (C) Nairne, S., 1987, State of the art: ideas and images in the 1980s, Chatto & Windus, London 1993, Aratjara, Art of the First Australians: Traditional and Contemporary Works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists, exhib. cat. (conceived and designed by Bernard Luthi in collaboration with Gary Lee), Dumont, Buchverlag, Koln. (C) Schulz, D., 1994, Lines from the Dreamtime, The Australian Way, Qantas in flight magazine, May 1994 Smith, B. with Smith T., 1991, Australian Painting 1788-1990, Oxford University Press, 3rd edition, Sutton, P. (ed.), 1988, Dreamings: the Art of Aboriginal Australia, Viking, Ringwood, Victoria. (C) Wallace, D., Desmond, M., Caruana, W., 1991, Flash Pictures, exhib. cat.National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. West, M., 1984, 'The first national Aboriginal art Award' in, Australian Aboriginal Studies, Journal of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 1984, No. 1. Zurbrugg, N., Tim Johnson interviewed, Art and Australia quarterly, Vol 29, No. 1, Spring 1991 ; 1990, Papunya Tula, exhib. cat., Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne. (C) ; 1990, Balance 1990: Views, Visions, Influences, exhib. cat., Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane. (C) 1993, Tjukurrpa Desert Dreamings, Aboriginal Art from Central Australia (1971-1993), exhib. cat., Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth. (C) Discovery Media, Documentation Pty Ltd, and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

Michael's painting displayed in the foyer of the Sydney Opera House (Photo courtesy Sydney Opera House Trust & Vivien Johnson)
Notes: Grew up in the bush without clothes and remembers hiding in fear upon seeing a white man for the first time. Attended mission school at Yuendumu, leaving at thirteen after his initiation and worked as a buffalo shooter in Kakadu (east of Darwin), driving trucks, droving cattle and in the army before settling down with his wife Marjorie at Papunya where he worked in the government store and the Council. Observing the older artists he began to paint regularly in 1983. In 1985 he painted 'Five Stories' which went on to become the most reproduced work of Australian art during the 80's. Michael's works are highly sought after and have been featured in many publications. (Aboriginal Artists of the Western Desert. By Vivien Johnson)