Angilyiya Tjapiti Mitchell
Angilyiya (also spelt as Angilya, Angiliya) was born near to Blackstone Ranges in Emu Country near Kunmarnarra Bore. There are important men’s Dreamings in this country which is a traditional law area. She is a strong Law woman with wonderful bush skills, holding a wealth of traditional knowledge and capacity to live on this land. This year Angilyiya was appointed the caretaker for an important woman’s dreaming, linked to the Seven sisters story in country a little south of Blackstone.
Angilyiya’s father had four wives and her mother was the third. As a result she has a number of siblings and she shares the same father as Anawari Inpiti Mitchell. Her father was a ‘jealous man’ and kept his wives confined at a camp in the spinifex, at a distance from others. He would sweep the ground around the camp to ensure they did not venture out.
Angiliyiya had five children, one of whom has passed away..
She created her first painting in 1994 and has been consistently active as an artist since and has also made limited edition prints. She is energetic and takes an interest in many things and has turned her hand to wood carving to make punu (small wood sculptures) and wira (bowls) and making bush medicines. She sources camel fat from the contractors who manage the feral camel population to use in bush medicine, boiling it up in water.
She is very active in teaching and mentoring in language, culture and heritage. She is frequently called upon by the local Land Management team to come on trips and ‘talk for rockholes’ because of her knowledge of country/sites and ability to teach about ethnobotany and share Tjukurrpa (ancestral creation) stories. She says she is the ‘only one left to teach young people’.
She has also been a keen member of NPY Women’s Council and of Tjanpi Desert Weavers (TDW) making sculptural objects such as baskets and animal figures out of natural fibre tjarnp (local grasses), raffia and wool.
Angiliyiya has been commissioned to contribute to major projects including creating a grass Toyota that won first prize in the 2005 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art (NATSIA) Awards. It was a collective work created by 18 women from Papulankutja/Blackstone (WA) and was acquired by the Museum and Art Gallery NT as part of their permanent collection. This was the first time a contemporary fibre art piece took the major prize in the history of this prestigious award.
More recently she created a tjarnpi female sculptural figure – one of the Seven Sisters of the Tjukurrpa – for the extraordinary multi-faceted National Museum of Australia (NMA) Songlines exhibition that was on display at the NMA in Canberra from 2017 to 2018. The sculptures can see online as actual objects and have also been digitised as characters in a video. See more here https://songlines.nma.gov.au/tjanpi
NB: Spellings change between the orthographies developed by linguists for Ngaanyatjarra and Pitjantjatjara (both originally oral languages), although they share many words. This accounts for changes in spelling when using quoted text.
Further Artist Information
Community: Papulankutja (Blackstone) : WA