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"Snake Vine" by Tess Napaltjarri Ross

Tess Napaltjarri Ross

"Snake Vine" by Tess Napaltjarri Ross


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  • 122 x 46 cm 
  • Painted with acrylic paints on canvas

About Tess:

Tess Napaljarri Ross was born close to Yuendumu, on a cattle station East of Yuendumu. She was named Daisy. When she was a little girl her family moved to Yuendumu, an Aboriginal settlement 290 kms north-west of Alice Springs. Shortly after moving to Yuendumu her father died and her mother later remarried. Her step father, Larry Jungarrayi Spencer who was one or the artists who painted the Yuendumu Doors, taught her the patterns and designs of Yarri Pirlangu, a place south of Yuendumu.

She attended the local Yuendumu School and then trained as a teacher assistant through Batchelor College in Darwin. After she finished her training she returned to Yuendumu and has been actively involved in the school Two-Way teaching program which is devoted to maintaining the indigenous Warlpiri culture and language in the community. Tess has also worked as a translator and helped to translate the Yuendumu Doors Book for IATSIS press.

She is married and has one daughter, Lizzie Ross with her first husband, Jack Jakamarra Ross. She is very involved with her large extended family and the community in various programs. She has worked with Birds of Australia setting up a bird sanctuary in New Haven, 80 kms north-east of Yuendumu. Tess is one of the earlier painters of Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre established in 1985 and located in Yuendumu.

Tess first learnt art at school and when the Centre opened asked what she could paint. It was the Yarri Pirlangu patterns and designs which she still incorporates into her Jukurrpa stories today.

About the artwork:

The country shown in this painting is Purturlu (Mt Theo) area. Ngalyipi (Snake Vine; Tinospora Smilacina) is represented by the curved lines and has a great ceremonial significance for Warlpiri. Napanangka and Napangardi women are the custodians of the Ngalyipi Jukurrpa at this site. Ngalyipi is used to make shoulder straps to help carry Ngami (water carriers) and Parraja (wooden food carriers). In this painting, all the Napanangka and Napangardi women are collecting the Ngalyipi. These materials and the Ngalyipi Jukurrpa are associated with initiation ceremonies for young Japanangka and Japangardi men.