Niningka Lewis is an artist whose creative innovation is loved by many. Born between the mission settlement of Areyonga and Tempe Downs cattle station in the Northern Territory, she grew up in the Ernabella area, making regular trips throughout her traditional lands. After living and working in Kalka and Ernabella for many years where she was a painter and ceramic artist, Niningka now resides at Mutitjulu in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and is a leading wood etcher and carver with Maruku Arts. She also works with Tjanpi Desert Weavers, sculpting and weaving native grass artefacts.
Paintings depict the Tjukurpa, the Law and stories of Ancestors. Anangu (Central and Western Desert Aboriginal people) have responsibilities for the protection and teaching of different Tjukurpa and there are strict protocols for the imparting of knowledge. The dotting technique has evolved with the need to adapt sacred expressions of Tjukurpa for public viewing and as a depiction of the desert landscape.
The artist has painted their impression of ngayuku ngura (my country). Kapi tjukurla are the water holes represented by circles. By their very nature waterholes also mark sites related to the Creation Ancestors’ journeys across the country; the ‘dreaming tracks’ followed by countless generations of Anangu since. They created landforms and customs to be passed on and maintained over subsequent generations. The sites are linked through inma or ceremony - the singing, dancing and body painting which reveals the laws of nature and provides a blue print for life and a guiding map of country.
In paintings such as this one Anangu share, celebrate and pass on the Tjukurpa and the links it forms with their country and kin.