Nellie Roberts

Ninuku Arts

Around the year 1950, Tjawina Nellie Roberts was born in the bush  at Katajulu, a site near the Western Australian community of Blackstone. Soon after, while she was still a young baby, both of her parents passed away. She was taken in by the Nuns at the Warburton Mission where she spent all of her childhood. It was here that she also got her education.

When she was still in school, her brother took her to Pukatja (Ernabella) in South Australia, to be with him and other family members. She didn’t feel very happy there, and soon returned to Warburton. Later on, she moved to Amata where she met her first husband.

Together they had three children, which she continued to raise even after her husband left. During the 1970s, a mine was constructed at Irrunytju (Wingellina), a community just over the Western Australian border. This provided many opportunities for work, so she and her children made the move west. Nellie continues to live in Irrunytju with her family to this day.

Nellie started painting during the early 2000s, when the first art centres were opened. As there is no permanent art centre in Irrunytju, she is supported by Ninuku Arts in Kalka, another community just a short distance away. Her paintings often depict her home country, Iljupa, which she paints using bold combinations of colours and dot work.