Kunmanara Ngupulya Pumani (1948 - 2019)
Kunmanara Ngupulya Pumani (1948 - d. 2019) was a senior Anangu artist and a cultural leader of remarkable strengths, committed to fostering traditional law and culture in her community of Mimili in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands of far north-west South Australia. Ngupulya learnt the importance of female leadership and Anangu culture from her mother Kunmanara Milatjari Pumani, who was one of the founders of Mimili Maku Arts.
Kunmanara Ngupulya Pumani grew up on Everard Park Station, where she worked for many years before the station closed under the APY Land Rights Act in1981. As the eldest of five siblings, Ngupulya was a regional leader and strong advocate for the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people across the APY Lands. Alongside her sister, Betty Kuntiwa Pumani, she started the first pre-school in Indulkana and Mimili and worked at both the Mimili Clinic and Mimili Anangu School, before deciding to share her knowledge and stories through her art. Throughout her career she found ways to connect her passions for art, teaching and mentorship, working with school groups, leading bush trips for artists and kids, and developing a digital Yankunytjatjara language maintenance project.
Kunmanara Ngupulya Pumani’s paintings radiate her cultural integrity, pride and strength. Her visual language and iconography align closely with her mother’s, using multi-layered veils of colour to create unique compositions and narratives of her country, celebrating the ongoing cultural connection of Anangu women to Antara. Ngupulya shared Anangu knowledge every day both on and off the canvas, maintaining the cultural authority for Antara, and the maku, witchetty grub, Tjukurpa.
Kunmanara Ngupulya Pumani exhibited both nationally and internationally and has been recognised in a number of painting prizes within Australia including the prestigious 32nd Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin in 2015, and in the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, in 2017.
© The Artist, Mimili Maku and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne 2021
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