Judy Napangardi Watson

Judy Napangardi Watson

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DOB: c. 1935 - 2016
Born: Yarungkanji, Mt. Doreen Station, Yuendumu, NT

Judy Watson Napangardi was born around 1935 at Yarungkanji, Mt. Doreen Station, at the time when many Warlpiri and other Central and Western Desert Peoples were living a traditional nomadic life. With her family Judy made many trips on foot back to (and lived for long periods at) Mina Mina and Yingipurlangu, her ancestral country on the border of the Tanami and Gibson Deserts. These places are rich in bush tucker such as wanakiji (bush plums), yakajirri (bush tomatoes), and wardapi (sand goanna). Though a very tiny woman Judy had ten children to a husband she was a co-wife to, together with Maggie and another sister. It was in this harsh and challenging environment, with many mouths to feed that her family was brought up.

Judy was taught painting by her elder sister, Maggie Napangardi Watson. She painted alongside Maggie at Warlukurlangu artists for a number of years, developing her own unique style. Most of her works depict Mina Mina or Dreamings connected to it: Karnta (Women), Kanakurlangu (Digging Stick), Ngalyipi (Snake Vine), Yunkaranyi (Honey Ant), Jintiparnta (Native Truffle) and hair belt.

She was a woman of incredible energy and this is transmitted to her work through her dynamic use of colour and energetic "dragged dotting" style. Judy was at the forefront of a move towards more abstract rendering of Jukurrpa by Warlpiri artists, however her work retained strong kurruwarri, the details which tell of the sacredness of place and song in her culture.

Sadly Judy passed away in May 2016 and we lost a great artist and a great woman.


  • Aboriginal Art Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
  • Flinders University Art Museum, Melbourne
  • Gordon Darling Foundation, Canberra
  • Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
  • South Australian Museum, Adelaide
  • The Henderson Family Collection, Sydney
  • Corrigan Collection, Sydney
  • Luciano Benetton Collection, Venice
  • Kluge Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia, USA
  • Fondation Burkhardt-Felder Arts et Culture, Moitiers, Switzerland
  • Artbank, Sydney

Awards and Recognition

2007 Top 50 Collectable Artists, Australian Art Collector Magazine


Selected Solo Exhibitions

2008 Judy Watson Napangardi, Metro 5 Gallery, Melbourne

Selected Group Exhibitions

2021 We Choose to Challenge, Coo-ee Fine Art Gallery, Sydney
2020 Colours of Spring, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 Beyond Time, Australian Aboriginal Art, Booker Lowe Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
2019 International Women's Day, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 Defining Tradition | the colurists, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2018 Land and Sky - Warlpiri Artists, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle, WA
2017 Gems of the Stockroom, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2011 Thinking outside the square, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2010 Stories from the Centre, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2008 True Colours, Ladner and Fell Gallery, Melbourne
2004 Colour Power: Aboriginal Art Post 1984, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
2004 Painting Country, Thornquest Gallery, Queensland
2004 New Works from Yuendumu, Bellas Gallery, Brisbane
2004 Little Warlu, Big Stories, Hot Little paintings by Big artists of Yuendumu, Australia's NT & Outback Centre, Sydney
2004 Dreaming Stories, Indigenart, Perth
2004 Divas of the Desert, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
2004 Desert Mob, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs
2004 Big Country, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
2003 Yimi Pirrijirdi - Strong Stories, Alison Kelly Gallery, Melbourne
2003 True Blue Christmas 2003, Framed Gallery, Darwin
2003 The Colours of Mina Mina, Judy Watson and Betsy Lewis, Raft Gallery, Darwin
2003 Kurruwarri Wirijarlu - Big Story, Hogarth Gallery, Sydney
2003 Kurruwarri Pipangka - Designs on Paper, CDU Gallery
2003 Black and White. Colour. Seeing country in two ways, Counihan Gallery, Melbourne
2003 Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
2003 Desert Mob, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs
2002 Warlukurlangu Collection, Parliament House, Canberra
2002 Warlukurlangu Artists Cooperative of Yuendumu, Jeffrey Moose Gallery, Seatlle USA
2002 Warlukurlangu Artists Cooperative of Yuendumu, One Union Square Lobby, Seattle, USA
2002 Onshore Art Barwon Heads Victoria
2002 New Works from Warlukurlangu, Indigenart, Perth WA
2002 Paintings from Yuendumu, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London
2002 Indigenart Perth
2002 Bellas Gallery Brisbane
2000 Wayuta, The Desart Janganpa Gallery, Alice Springs
2000 Shell Fremantle Print Award, Fremantle
2000 Kurawari, Desart Gallery, Sydney
2000 Journey to the North West, Palya Art, Sydney
2000 Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
2000 Beaver Galleries, Canberra
2000 Marking the Paper, Desart Gallery, Sydney
2000 jangku yinyi, Carey Baptist Grammar School, Melbourne
1999 Mina Mina, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
1999 International Women's Day Exhibition, Watch This Space, Alice Springs
1999 Desert Mob Show, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs
1998 Kurrawarri Kirli, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
1998 Framed Gallery, Darwin
1998 Desert Designs, Perth
1998 Art Gallery Culture Store, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
1998 A Thousand Journeys, Tin Shed Gallery, University of Sydney, Sydney
1997 Hogarth Gallery, Sydney
1995 SOFA, Miami, USA
1995 SOFA, Chicago, USA
1995 Bellas Gallery, Brisbane
1994 Armstrong Gallery, Florida
1994 Echoes of the Dreamtime, Osaka, Japan
1993 Sutton Gallery, Melbourne
1993 Northern Territory Art Award, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
1993 CINAFE (Chicago International New Art Forms Exposition), USA
1993 Bellas Gallery, Brisbane
1993 Adelaide Town Hall, (in assoc. with The Pacific Arts Symposium), Adelaide
1992 The Long Gallery, Hobart
1992 Hogarth Gallery of Dreams, Sydney
1991 Darwin Performing Arts Centre, Darwin
1990 Women's Exhibition, The Women's Gallery, Melbourne
1990 I.U.N.C. (showing at Hilton Hotel), Perth
1990 Darwin Performing Arts Centre, Darwin