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Maywokka Chapman

Spinifex Hill Studios

‘My name Mayiwalku. I’m pujiman (nomadic desert dweller).  [I had] no clothes, nothing. Me Karimarra [skin group]. My daughter Milangka, mummy Milangka, daddy Purungu. [I was] born long way [away] – Ngarurr I been born.  He [They] been coming back [with me], mummy and daddy.  He [They] been bringing little one- me. He [They] been walk around, go round.  Walking, walking with me.  Me baby, eating sand! (laughs) My daddy (motions her father hitting her hand). I been big one [the eldest child]. My sister Mulyatingki she told me “May you cheeky one!” I been mujarri (run away), me. I been hit him, my sister.  She been crying, telling my mummy.  She been hit me then. My daddy always gone long way, hunting marlu (kangaroo) and pussy cat.  Get him with a spear.  Good feed. He been bring them and cook ‘em.

I been get married in Warralong.  My nyupa (husband) finished now.  Good man.  Big one!  I’m a single now.  Too much children!  Dennis, Sally, Pauly, Charlie, Arnold, Doreen and Sandra.  My daughter Doreen I been get him [gave birth to] near to Jigalong.  All the boys [were born in] Karntimarta, Warralong. In Warralong painting, painting.  No fishing – no car!  Only painting, painting every day!  Yuwai! [Yes!]’

May was born in the desert at Ngarurr soak in the 1940s. She is the eldest sister of fellow artists Nancy Nyanjilpayi Chapman, Mulyatingki Marney and Marjorie Yates (dec). As a child and through to young adulthood, Mayiwalku travelled through her parents’ Country with their family. This region encompassed the areas surrounding Punmu, Karlamilyi River and Kunawarritji. Following the death of their parents, the sisters continued to travel in the desert alone, though at times they would meet and travel with other family groups.

Language group: Manyjilyjarra