Feature Artist: Dinny Nolan Tjampitjimpa

Posted in Art Gallery

Feature Artist: Dinny Nolan Tjampitjimpa

Dinny Nolan Tjampitjimpa was born west of Mt. Allan near the present site of Yuendumu. His  birth is thought to be in the early 1920’s as when interviewed, he said that he is a survivor of the Coniston massacre. (This was the last officially condoned massacre of Aboriginal people where about 70 Warlpiri men and women were murdered on Coniston Station in August 1928).

As an adult he worked as a stockman on many cattle stations in the Northern Territory before following in the footsteps of several of his relatives and settling in Papunya. Here under the guidance of Geoffrey Bardon, he was  one of the first men to put the traditional body paintings and sand drawings on canvas, along with his brother, Kaapa Tjampitjimpa and his two cousins, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri in the early 1970’s.

As a senior custodian for the Warlpiri people, he was known as a traditional Ngangkari healer of Central Australia – a medicine man, using his Ngangkari skills the Anangu way. He was recognised as a custodian of the Rainmaking and Water Dreamings using his powerful voice and painting skills in ceremonies.

Find Dinny Nolan’s Paintings Here.

Dinny was the Kurdungurlu (ceremonial police) for the Karrinyarra group. He called out to announce the arrival of the Kirda into Pulka Karrinya. Pulka meaning ‘Behold Karrinya’. This is a men’s site but is also a public ceremonial site where young boys and girls can partake of culture and learn law-lore.

The Karrinyarra group takes its name from Karrinyarra, or Central Mount Wedge as part of the Stuart Ranges. The members of the Karrinyarra group trace their line of descent and links to country through three Tjungarrayi ancestors who, as persons with the same subsection, are regarded as having been brothers.

Dinny Nolan’s art is characterised by his predominant use of natural ochre colours, and the designs he utilises are the same he paints on the bodies of men taking part in ceremonies. He is a senior Lawman and a recognised leader for Rainmaking and Water Dreaming ceremonies. One of his designs was used for a stained glass window in the National Gallery of Victoria.

He travelled to Melbourne in 1977 for an exhibition of Papunya Tula paintings. In 1981 he visited Sydney to construct the first ground painting to be seen outside of Central Australia.

Find Dinny Nolan’s Paintings Here.

In 1991 Dinny Nolan flew with Paddy Carroll to America on a working exhibition to tour colleges and universities and Native American communities – taken there by two migrant poets, American Billy Marshall-Stoneking and New Zealand Nigel Roberts.

Dinny and Paddy were linguists involved in teaching the children in the Papunya school bi-lingual program set up to retain their oral languages. They met English teacher Billy involved in this school bi-lingual program – all three interested in preserving First Nation languages.

Dinny Nolan Tjampitjinpa died in 2011 as an elderly man and is remembered and honoured in Yulamu-Mount Allen on the wall mural in the central square in front of the shop and with his name in large painted font spread across the rainwater tank. Sorely missed by Karrinyarra family, Karrinyarra lost a ceremonial cultural custodian who was highly respected by all Anangu for his knowledge of Anangu law-lore.

Named as one of Australia’s top 50 collectable artists by Australian Art Collector magazine.