Ngatijirri Jukurrpa (Budgerigar Dreaming) by Jill Nungarrayi Watson
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Artist: Jill Nungarrayi Watson
Title: Ngatijirri Jukurrpa (Budgerigar Dreaming)
Region: Yuendumu, NT
Size: 30cm x 30cm
Medium: Acrylic on Stretched Canvas
The Jukurrpa site shown in this painting for Ngatijirri (budgerigar [Melopsittacus undulates]) is at Yangarnmpi, south of Yuendumu. ‘Ngatijirri’ are small, bright green birds native to central Australia which are common around the Yuendumu area, especially after the summer rains. Men would hunt for ‘ngatijirri’ nests, robbing them of eggs and juvenile birds, which are both considered delicacies. The men would also go out hunting for adult, flying ‘ngatijirri’, which they would kill by swinging branches, killing sticks or ‘karli’ (boomerangs) to hit the birds in flight. The ‘ngatijirri’ travelled to Yangarnmpi from Patirlirri, near Willowra to the east of Yuendumu and travelled further on to Marngangi, north/west of Mount Dennison and west of Yuendumu. Each time the flock of ancestral ‘ngatijirri’ lands, they perform ceremonies, singing and dancing as they fly and roost in the trees. The sites of these ceremonies are depicted in this painting as concentric circles, while cross-like shapes depict the footprints of the birds on the ground and give an indication of the large flocks of ‘ngatijirri’ that can be found near Yangarnmpi and other sites close to Yuendumu. After good rains ‘ngatijirri’ can successfully breed several times, resulting in an explosion of the population in a short time. Custodians for the Ngatijirri Jukurrpa are Napaljarri/Nungarrayi women and Japaljarri/Jungarrayi men.
Jill Nungarrayi Watson was born near Tennant Creek, a small township located 500 km north of Alice Springs. When her grandfather died, her family moved to Lajamanu where she went to school. She later moved to Yirara College, a coeducational, Years 7 to 10, Indigenous residential School in Alice Springs. In 1983 she married Lawrence Jangala Watson and shortly after they moved to Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community located 290 km north-west of Alice Springs in the NT of Australia. She has 4 children, three sons and one daughter. Her second son is a Yuendumu Police aid. Jill worked at the local Centre link office for 12 years, working from 1994 to 2010. She has been painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre located in Yuendumu, since 1992. She paints her father’s Jukurrpa stories, Dreamings which relate directly to her land, its features and animals. These stories have been passed down to her from her Grandmother and Grandfather and their parents before them for millennia. Jill has exhibited in Group Exhibitions in Florida, USA; Osaka, Japan; and Alice Springs, Australia. When she’s not painting she likes to go hunting for Bush tucker and taking her Aunty, Judy Napangardi Watson, goanna hunting.