Jennifer Nginyaka Mitchell

Portrait of Aboriginal Artist Jennifer Nginyaka Mitchell

Jennifer was born in c1955 at Kala Tjuti near Irruntju (Wingelina) in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands. Kala Tjuti is an important place culturally as it is the site of the Emu dreaming place and the Wati Kutjara dreaming story.

As a child she travelled across the Ngaanyatjarra Lands, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunyjatjarra Lands (APY Lands) with her family and was near Maralinga when atomic rocket testing was conducted by the British, American and Australian Defense Forces in the 1950s. Her grandfather became ill from the radioactive flalout and died soon after. Having returned from Oodnadatta, SA Jennifer and her family hid away in wiltja (bush shelters) at Watinuma to be safe from the bomb.

Jennifer remembers hiding during the day, only coming out at night when the smoke was gone. She said her eyes stung after the bomb. They were helped by Mr McDonald a government official who made sure the Aboriginal people were well away, over the range, from the test site.

Jennifer became a senior custodian of the Kuru Ala Seven Sisters site  after her mother Eileen Tjayanka Woods passed away. 

She started making tjanpi (grass) baskets in 1995 and has been painting since 2008. Jennifer is also an accomplished basket-maker and sculptor (animated dogs and caricatures of people) out of wool and grass. 

Further Artist Information

Community: Papulankutja (Blackstone) : WA


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