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Isobelle Spencer Napaljarri

Yarrenyty Arltere Artists & Tangentyere Artists

Isobel Spencer Napaljarri was born in Yuendumu, NT in 1953, profoundly mute, and currently lives in Mparntwe (Alice Springs). Spencer paints daily, and first joined Tangentyere Artists in 2017 alongside her sisters who act as her translator; April Spencer Napaljarri and Winke Spencer Napaljarri, with the latter sadly passing away at the end of 2020.

Spencer’s practice is interwoven with those of her family members, having first learned to paint by watching her brother and father draw circles and dotting in the sand as a child. In time Spencer began watching her brother, renowned painter Andrew Spencer Japaltjarri paint large scale canvases and through these experiences developed her own style. Painting in the signature Walpiri style, Spencer uses her art as a vehicle for sharing stories from Warlpiri culture. She most often paints Wardapi Tjukurrpa (Goanna Dreaming), telling the story of women hunting sand goanna in the dunes of Yarripilangku, SW of Yuendumu. Spencer cleverly uses shifts of colours within her intersecting fields of dotting to form a dynamic background, on top of which she layers iconography, bringing these features to the foreground.

She previously painted with IAD’s Jukurrpa Collective, and her works have been shown in both South Australia and the Northern Territory.