Betsy Lewis Napangardi
Artist has Passed Away
c. 1940 - 2008
Out of respect for Aboriginal culture Central Art has removed the artist's photograph.
Betsy Lewis Napangardi was a traditional Warlpiri woman from the Yuendumu Community region. Betsy was born in the bush just west of Yuendumu in the 1940’s, this was before hospitals and health clinics were available and accessible in the area. Betsy moved to Mount Doreen Station with her family at a young age. She was raised by Paddy Japanangka Lewis and attended the Yuendumu School. She spent her life living in Yuendumu.
I met Betsy back in 2007 during one of her shopping trips to Alice Springs.
Betsy began painting full time in 1999 however she had been painting for Warlukurlangu Artists for some time before then. She was considered at the forefront of the move towards more abstract depictions of Aboriginal art however did maintain a strong connection to her Kurruwarri heritage. Her art is bright and textured with thick layers of paint. Some of her family members are also artists such as Margaret Lewis.
Unfortunately Betsy passed away in February 2008. However her artwork is still in the market and pieces can still be found. During her artistic career Betsy participated in numerous group exhibitions and also a joint exhibition with the famous Judy Watson Napangardi, also from the Yuendumu region. Out of respect to the artist, her family and culture, Central Art has removed her photo. Traditionally Aboriginal people would cease to refer to someone who had passed on by their name, however given the difficulties of this for Central Art we have continued to refer to Betsy by her name.
Betsy is known best for five Dreamtime depictions - Snake Vine, Women’s Dreaming, Edible Fungus, Dreaming Site and Dogwood. The story of Jintiparnta is of the Napangardi and Napanangka women who collect Jintiparnta or Edible Fungus at Karnakarlangu. The area is also known as Mina Mina. The ancestral women would travel from here heading north and east toward Janyinki and Alcoota country. The Mina Mina is a ceremonial place which belongs to the Japanangka and Japangardi men and the Napanangka and Napangardi women. Water soakages, sand hills and clay pans can be found throughout the area and the women would dance and perform ceremonies at key locations. It is said that because of these ceremonies digging sticks rose up out of the water and the women carried them throughout their journey. The women would dance and sing nonstop, never stopping for sleep. During the journey women would collect many bush foods in particular Jintiparnta.
Betsy’s art can also be found on cushions, these replications of her art work describe the discussions the women would have during their travels whilst collecting bush foods and snake vine. The ceremonies are also depicted.
I would recommend purchasing Betsy’s artwork because she has shared important Dreamtime stories significant to the Yuendumu region. Her works were at the forefront of abstract depictions for her country and sadly Betsy is no longer with us and thus as time goes on her paintings will no longer be readily available. Central Art is proud of the artwork that we acquired from Betsy and the story that is shared on the canvas. Central Art will always remember her for her strong traditional ties to her culture and the sharing of her Dreaming stories through her beautiful art.
Important copyright notice
The Copyright of all images and documentation remains with Sabine Haider. The Australian Copyright Act protects all artists from unauthorised copying by giving control over original works of art to the artist by law. However depending on the use proposed, Sabine Haider from Central Art – Aboriginal Art Store can facilitate reproduction of works with the permission of the artist as we have developed close relationships over the years with many individual painters and craftspeople.
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