Michelle Possum Nungurrayi
Michelle was born in 1970 in the remote Mount Allan, to northwest of Alice Springs. She and her siblings were taught to paint at a very young age by her father, who happened to be the famous Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. She began painting in the mid-eighties and to this day still portrays her father’s unique style in her work, in addition to bolder color and the use of female ceremonies and stories.
Her work is typically aerial views of where she grew up and all the iconography of the sites she knows so well. She also paints a variety of different things including bush tucker stories, seed dreamings, fire dreamings, worm dreamings, goanna dreamings, and her grandmother’s country. Many of these are woven together in her art.
Her works are popular because once the visual images are understood, they become very interesting to the average Westerner. Not only do her paintings include plants, food items, and waterholes, but they also include people sitting in the landscape, men with hunting tools, and women with digging sticks and coolamons.
Michelle currently lives and works in Melbourne and is often found painting in the company of her sister, Gabriella.
Meaning behind the artwork
The Star Dreaming story of the Seven Sisters is one of the most widely distributed ancient stories amongst Aboriginal Australia. The songline for this story covers more than half the width of the continent, from deep in the Central Desert out to the west coast. The songline travels through many different language groups and different sections of the narrative are recognized in different parts of the country.
In the Seven Sisters story in Aboriginal Australia, the group of stars is Napaljarri sisters from one skin group. In the Warlpiri story of this Jukurrpa, the sisters are often represented carrying the Jampijinpa man Wardilyka, who is in love with the woman. Then the morning star, Jukurra-jukurra, who is a Jakamarra man and who is also in love with the seven Napaljarri sisters, is shown chasing them across the night sky. They are seen to be running away, fleeing from the man who wants to take one of the sisters for his wife. However, under traditional law, the man pursuing the sisters is the wrong skin group and is forbidden to take a Napaljarri wife.