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Pinpi (Durba Springs) – Judith Anya Samson

This painting is part of the Nyina-ya ngurrangka ngampurrpa (stay in your home safely) collection – a body of works by Martu artists in lockdown. From Monday 16th March Martumili Artists closed on-site art-production and retail, as a protective measure in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The remote Martu communities of Parnngurr, Punmu, Kunawarritji, Warralong and Jigalong went into lockdown, with access to visitors strictly prohibited to protect community members, and in particular the important elders that call Martu Country home. Martu Artists who found themselves on Country during lockdown had the opportunity for reconnection with their daily art practice, undisturbed by busy contemporary life as Australia, and indeed the world, slowed down in the face of the global pandemic.


This collection of artworks showcases the unstoppable determination of Martu Artists in their work, and demonstrates a deep and enduring commitment to art-making as an act of cultural preservation and social connection. Martu elders use paintings as a means to pass on stories of Country, jukurrpa (dreaming), family histories and traditional environmental knowledge to younger family members. To Martu Artists, painting is connection. And in times of isolation and lockdown, they have remained connected to eachother, and to their Country.


“It’s nice at Pinpi (Durba Springs). There’s lots of kapi (water). We go swimming there. My nanna [Dadda Samson] and me drank that water when I was a little girl with my nanna and pop. We dug up the sandhills with shovels to drink the kapi, cold kapi. We got lots of that kapi.”

 – Judith Anya Samson

Pinpi is a spring and adjacent cave located just south east of Jilukurru (Killagurra Spring, Canning Stock Route Well 17). This site forms part of Anya’s ngurra (home Country, camp) through her grandmother, Dadda Samson.

Pinpi is an important site in the Wati Kujarra (Two Goanna Men) Jukurrpa (Dreaming) narrative, and the red rock walls surrounding the spring feature many paintings referencing this story. The Wati Kujarra existed as half men, half goanna. They were responsible for the creation of many land features in Martu Country and beyond as they travelled, hunted and burned Country together. Wati Kujarra is a ngurlu (sacred, taboo) men’s story, and for this reason much of the content is only shared with initiated men.

Name: Judith Anya Samson

Language: Putijarra

Community: Jigalong


"My name is Judith Samson. My skin [group] is Milangka and I speak Martu Wangka. I was born in Hedland, Port Hedland seaside, but I moved to Jigalong community with my nanna [Dadda Samson (dec.)] and my pop. Then we moved to desert, to Puntawarri, [Canning Stock Route] Well 17. I was still a young girl, still crawling in the desert. It was nice there. Some other families lived there with us. We had some farm, some vegetables. We went schooling in Puntawarri at the school, learning ‘two way’ [refers to teaching in both Martu Wangka and English, with a focus on local cultural and ecological knowledge]. We used to go and get some parnajarrpa (goanna) and turkey. We had a Toyota truck. We been go hunting at the desert. Some people there still, but they gotta build some new houses and then we going back to [live in] Puntawarri.

My nanna’s sister had a house here in Newman, so we used to come and visit. I did high school here in Newman. Now I move between Jigalong and Newman. My nanna [was] living in Jigalong, so I still go visit there.

I started to do painting here at Martumili when I was a young girl. I been help my nanna painting, we were painting Puntawarri one. My nanna was teach me to paint. I like to do some painting. I paint the Canning Stock Route, [and Canning Stock Route] Well 17 at Puntawarri. My favourite thing is going out to Country, and go back to Jigalong and Puntawarri, and to do some painting about Country. Painting helps me be strong. My family and my culture is feeling proud. I feel happy when I paint- pukurlpa. Happy! I also like playing softball. We play for Jigalong, Western Desert. I also like to dance and listen to music.

I work with Martumili now. I come to work and wash all the paint, put all the tubs in the colour and wash all the brushes. I help sell the paintings, and photograph and catalogue them. I went to America, Fremantle, the Gold Coast, Sydney,  and Alice Springs with Martumili. I like to work at Martumili- happy, pukurlpa (happy). I also work for KJ (Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa ranger group) mob in Jigalong too."

- Judith Anya Samson


Judith is the granddaughter of Dadda Samson and Yanjimi (Peter) Rowlands, both of whom were highly regarded Martumili artists. She was born in Port Hedland and has lived most of her life in Jigalong. Judith was raised by her grandparents Dadda and Yanjimi, as her parents passed away when she was very young. As Judith describes, she was taught to paint by her grandmother Dadda, who passed stories to her for painting. Judith also spent much time travelling with Dadda to her country around the Puntawarri and the Rabbit Proof Fence areas, both subject of many of her paintings.

Judith has exhibited in most Martumili Artists' exhibitions in recent years. Her work has been acquired by the Art Gallery of Queensland (GOMA) and the National Museum of Australia.

© the artist / art centre