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Yangkarni Penny K-Lyons

Mangkaja Arts

Yangkarni, of the Walmajarri language group was born at Wanywurtu under a tutujarti [desert walnut] tree. She grew up there with her family of one father, two mothers, one brother and two sisters. There is a rock hole with spring water at Wanywurtu where Yangkarni remembers going walkabout for
goanna and pussycat [feral cat].

Yangkarni’s family and other groups migrated north to the cattle station country surrounding the Fitzroy Valley. When they left the desert she was a girl in her early teens. During the journey she lost her mother’s sister, then her father and mother. Yangkarni became distressed about losing her parents and wanted to keep looking for them. Her brother kumanjayi [deceased] Pijaju got angry with her and left Yangkarni and her little sister at nearby Milidjidee and kept going.

Yangkarni’s beautiful paintings show the traditional waterholes and hunting grounds of the Great Sandy Desert where she and her family lived up until the early 1950s. Mapping the land through knowledge and stories from where she was born. Vibrant colours make up dots and patterns to describe traveling tales, sometimes walking long distances over sand hills to reach important waterholes.