Brush-tail Possum Dreaming by Erica Napurrurla Ross

Brush-tail Possum Dreaming by Erica Napurrurla Ross

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  • Artist: Erica Napurrurla Ross
  • Title: Brush-tail Possum Dreaming
  • Region: Yuendumu
  • Language: Warlpiri
  • Size: 46 x 46cm
  • Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
  • Art Centre: Warlukurlangu Artists


Erica Napurrurla Ross lives in Yuendumu, an Aboriginal community located 290 kms north-west of Alice Springs. She was born and raised there attending the local school. She then went to school in Alice Springs at Yirara College, an Aboriginal boarding college. Since finishing high school Erica has done a series of further education studies through Batchelor College in Alice Springs and Darwin. Her studies include Business and Language.

Erica’s first job was as a literacy worker doing translations and interpreting at Yuendumu School. After a couple of years she begun working at Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre, where she stretched canvases, gave out paint to artists and helped with general administration work. While she was working at the art centre she started doing her own paintings, depicting Dreamings passed down to her by her father and mother.

She is currently studying at the Batchelor Institute in Alice Springs where she is about to complete a Diploma in Interpreting. While studying she initially worked with the Yuendumu Old People’s Program and up until recently she has been working as a receptionist for the Central Desert Shire (Yuendumu Council).

Erica has two children and is a grandma and when she’s not working or painting she spends a lot of time helping to care for her grand-kids.

Janganpa Jukurrpa (Brush-tail Possum Dreaming)- Mawurrji

Janganpa Jukurrpa (common brush-tail possum [Trichosurus vulpecula] Dreaming) travels all over Warlpiri country. ‘Janganpa’ are nocturnal animals that often nest in the hollows of white gum trees (‘wapunungka’). This story comes from a big hill called Mawurrji, west of Yuendumu and north of Pikilyi (Vaughan Springs). A group of ‘janganpa’ ancestors resided there. Every night they would go out in search of food. Their hunting trips took them to Wirlki and Wanapirdi, where they found ‘pamapardu’ (flying ants). They journeyed on to Ngarlkirdipini looking for water. A Nampijinpa women was living at Mawurrji with her two daughters. She gave her daughters in marriage to a Jupurrurla ‘janganpa’ but later decided to run away with them. The Jupurrurla angrily pursued the woman. He tracked them to Mawurrji where he killed them with a stone axe. Their bodies are now rocks at this place. Warlpiri people perform a young men’s initiation ceremony, which involves the Janganpa Jukurrpa. The Janganpa Jukurrpa belongs to Jakamarra/Jupurrurla men and Nakamarra/Napurrurla women. In Warlpiri paintings traditional iconography is used to represent this Jukurrpa. ‘Janganpa’ tracks are often represented as ‘E’ shaped figures and concentric circles are used to depict the trees in which the ‘janganpa’ live, and also the sites at Mawurrji.