Born: 1952 Mt Doreen Station, Central Desert NT
Country: Mina Mina, Tanami Desert NT.
Margaret grew up ‘bush’ with no exposure to white man until her family moved to settlements in Papunya and later to Yuendumu. In 1978 she participated with other Yuendumu women learning the art of batik-making and started painting in the late 1980s. Her late father Paddy Japanangka Lewis taught Margaret painting and; in 2007, she started painting on a regular basis. Margaret loves to go hunting for bush tucker, especially bush potato, bush berries, bush banana and goanna.
Margaret comes from a family of famous Indigenous artists. Her sisters Dorothy (Robinson) Napangardi and Judy (Watson) Napangardi (both deceased) have demonstrated incredible skill and consistency in their work for over twenty-five years and are internationally respected. Judy used a vibrant range of colours to create energetic works. Margaret still draws on elements of the refined dot work mastered by Dorothy. She has had a close association with the great contemporary artists of Yuendumu and Nyirripi. Besides her sister, Dorothy she was also close to Judy Napangardi Watson. The women artists shared the great Warlpiri Jukurrpa of the Women’s Ceremony at Mina Mina, which has been a central theme in the contemporary work of all three artists.
While Dorothy refined the imagery around Mina Mina and expressed it in black and white tones, Judy used a high keyed range of colours and the imagery was energetic and expansive. Margaret has acquired aspects of both these contrasting styles. Her most recent paintings have been restrained in colour although they still contain some high contrasts of red and black. Across these styles Margaret still draws on elements of the refined dot work of her sister and the thick bands of single colours used by Judy.
The Warlpiri artists have been working out these competing forces in their painting for decades, bouncing between the traditional expectations of Jukurrpa and the desire to unleash the colour, energy and celebration inherent in their feelings for their subject. Margaret is a Warlpiri artist to watch as she moves to the next stage of her artistic development and her contribution to Aboriginal art.
2012 Heirs and Successors, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
2012 Little Gems, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
2014 Desert Song, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA