Born: Mt. Allan, NT
LANGUAGE GROUP : Anmatyerre
COMMUNITY: Alice Springs, NT
Michelle Possum Nungarrayi is the younger daughter of Luritja woman, Emily Nakamarra Possum, and the famous Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, renowned for being one of the founding artists of the contemporary indigenous art movement, and for being the artist whose work has achieved the highest price at auction for an Australian Indigenous artwork.
Her life began in the remote Mt. Allan, to the north west of Alice Springs, in Australia's Northern Territory. She married Heath Ramzan Tjangala, and has had six children.
Michelle, her sister Gabriella and brother Lionel, were taught to paint by their highly talented father. She began painting at a young age in the mid 1980's and to this day, carries on the traditional stories, style and much of the iconography of Clifford Possum, albeit with stronger colour and the addition of women's ceremonial stories and other women's dreamings.
These include stories from Yuelamu, her home country of Mt Allan, and are often aerial maps of her country, describing the various important sites she knows well. The traditional and semi figurative iconography she inherited from her father features strongly in her works. She also paints the seven sisters, bush tucker stories including bush coconut, seed, and exploding seed dreamings, fire dreamings, worm dreamings, goanna dreaming, and grandmother's country - many of which she works together in a riot of complex interwoven design.
Her works are popular because once the iconography is understood, they make fascinating 'pictures' to the westerner, populated not only with plants, food items, waterholes etc. but also with people sitting in the landscape, the men with hunting implements and the women with digging sticks and coolamons.
Her first exhibition was a family group show in Brisbane, 1987, where her works were exhibited alongside those of her father and sister Gabriella.
Michelle currently paints in Melbourne, where her family now live, often painting in the company of her sister Gabriella.