Anmatyerre Artist from Utopia region.
‘It’s aboriginal way. We sit down together and paint. It’s how we keep our culture strong. We sit with our aunties and we learn our storylines. We learn about bush medicine, the plants, how to make it and how to use it. It keeps our family strong, it keeps us strong and our culture strong.’ — Louise Numina Napananka, Darwin, August 2017
Louise Numina is one of six well known desert artists: the Numina Sisters. She has two brothers, her widow mum still paints from time to time. Louise went to primary school on Stirling Station near Tennant Creek. She later studied at Yirarra College in Alice Springs. Like her sisters and mother she comes from a long line of desert painters of the contemporary Aboriginal art and dot-dot central desert movement. She is also a proud mother of three young children
After high school Louise returned to Stirling Station near Ti Tree where she worked with the Community Development Program. She started painting in 1981 after being taught by her well renowned painter aunties: Gloria and Kathleen Petyerre, Aunty Gloria is famous for her Bush Medicine Leaves winning the Wynne Landscape Prize in 1999 – the first Aboriginal Artist to win this prestigious award.
Louise has lived in Darwin since 1995 when she began studying at Nungalinya College achieving a diploma in Fine Arts. Louise works have featured in exhibitions in Darwin, Sydney and Brisbane. She has also collaborated with Brisbane fashion designer Pia du Pradal. Louise’s work has been collected for over 15 years.
The Bush Medicine Leaves is a popular theme of the Numina Sisters. Many women from the Petyarre, Mambitji and Numina family hold custody of the story and knowledge keepers of painting series-themes such as Bush Medicine Leaves, Bush Tucker, Seeded, Soakage, Womens' Ceremony etc - in common with other skin groups across the vast arid creek beds and red sand of central Australia.
Subjects of importance in the theme-series painted are various bush tucker. Plant foods include wild berries, plums, onion, yam, seeds etc. Many animals can be depicted as food source or as totems such as Thorny Devil Lizard and Dingo Tracks. Womens' Ceremony, Awelye Body Art Ceremony are mostly painted by senior ladies but younger women need to know it from a young age. These are often sacred and significant cultural ceremonies.
Knowing, carrying and reinforcing these stories gives respect for Country and ancestors and shows responsibility and care of holding such stories to keep the stories and traditional practices alive. The knowledge must be retold repeatedly and handed on.
The Numina Sisters have all been taught to paint by their earlier elder painter grandmothers, mother-auntys, and cousin-sisters connected across the Central Desert region. Their mother's and grandmother's Country is in the bush and remote Stirling Station.
The Bush Medicine Plant is an Australian native that grows wild in Central Australia. Women collect leaves from these plants , which are boiled to extract resin. Kangaroo fat is mixed into the resin, creating a paste that can be stored for a long time in bush conditions. This medicine is used to heal cuts, wounds, bites and rashes. It is also used to treat the flu, headache, backache, upset stomach, chest pains or as an insect repellent. As the leaves and petals dry out they fall off and are blown around by the wind. This is represented in the painting and gives it the movement.
Kenmore Gallery Brisbane , August 2018, First Solo Exhibition
Kenmore Gallery Brisbane , April 2019, "Two Sisters"
Wentworth Gallery Sydney , August 2019
Pia du Pradal Art and Fashion, February 2020
The Artery, Sydney
Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
Mason Gallery, Darwin
Aboriginal Art, Fremantle
Outback Aboriginal Art
Kenmore Gallery, Brisbane
The Wentworth Gallery, Sydney
Residencies: Amagoa Gallery, South Yarra, Melbourne December 2016
Raintree Art, Ballarat March 2017 and regularly as travel conditions permit
Feature article in Australian Womens Weekly June 2020 with Pia du Pradal and Dame Quentin Bryce
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