1955 - 2017
Born: 4 Miles, NT
LANGUAGE GROUP: Warlpiri
COMMUNITY: Yuendumu, NT
Alma Nungarrayi Granites (also known as Alma Nungarai Granites) was born 30th May 1955 and passed away in 2017. She was a Warlpiri woman and lives at Yuendumu, roughly 300km North-West of Alice Springs on the fringes of the Tanami Desert. Alma's father is Paddy Japaljarri Sims and her mother is Bessie Nakamarra Sims.
As a child, Alma and her family lived at 4 Miles. Alma and her sisters travelled daily by foot to attend the local school at Yuendumu, where she learnt to read and write in English and Warlpiri. In the 1970s Alma's family moved to Yuendumu. It was at school where Alma met Robin Japanangka Granites and they married as soon as they left school. Alma has 3 daughters and many grandchildren.
In the early years of their marriage, Robin became a well-known artist and travelled the world. Alma would stay at home to take care of their children. During this time, Alma worked as a staff member at the local school and attended the Bachelor College, studying to become an accredited teacher assistant for both Warlpiri and English. Once Alma graduated, she worked at the Yuendumu School assisting the Warlpiri classes.
While working at the school, Alma became aware of the great efforts to maintain, share and preserve her Warlpiri culture and traditions. Alma would observe elders visiting the school on a regular basis to teach the younger generation about the Jukurrpa (Dreaming) and associated country. Alma herself became interested in learning more about her heritage and traditions, and decided to attended courses run by the Old Peoples Program and Adult Education Centre. The courses ranged from painting, sewing, and batik classes to driving lessons. The ethos of not only learning cultural practices, but bridging traditional Warlpiri life to the new enforced 'white fella' way of life is something that Alma tries to apply to her painting career.
Alma recalls the importance of the elders during her upbringing and the men and women who were the 'carriers' of the Jukurrpa (Alma's own father is the last Japaljarri who knows all of the songs and ceremony for "Seven Sisters Dreaming" and "Milky Way Dreaming"). As Alma's interest in her background grew she learnt more from her aunties, mother, father and other family members about their songs and country where the Jukurrpa takes place.
When Alma stopped working as a teacher's assistant in 1987, she started painting at the local art centre. However it was not until 2007 that Alma started to paint in earnest. Alma applied herself and experimented with composition and artistic techniques, while still remaining true and respectful to her Warlpiri culture.
Alma constantly questions her parents and aunties to gain more detailed information and insight in to the stages and sites where the Jukurrpa takes place. With this knowledge, Alma has managed to assertively depict her Jukurrpa with an exuberance and richness which make them the focal point of any setting. Alma's paintings have a strong presence, which not only communicate the tension of the story, but the calm and whimsical nature of the night sky.
Alma's work is well represented in a number of Australian and overseas galleries that specialize in quality Aboriginal Art, including the Holmes a Court Collection, South Australian Museum and Artbank.