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Martu artists paint Country in all it’s different seasonal stages. Important to Martu, and to Martu Country, is the practice of waru (fire burning); a practice that assists with hunting, regenerates growth, and encourages greater diversity in plant and animal life. When Martu Country burns, mosaic fire scars are left on the Country, and patches of regeneration form a kind of mosaic pattern across the land. This is called nyurnma – burnt Country.  Waru is typically burnt in small, controlled areas, leaving a defined patchwork pattern of nyurnma in the land, across tali (sand hills), linyji (clay pans), parulyukurru (spinifex country) and pila (sandy plains). This patterning is clearly visible in Martumili Artists works, where they paint Country from an aerial perspective.

Name: Nola Ngalangka Taylor

Language: Manyjilyjarra

Community: Parnngurr


Ngalangka was born at Wirrinyalkujarra, north east of Punmu. Her mother was Warnman and Ngaanyatjarra and her father was a Ngaanyatjarra man. When Ngalangka was a child, her family lived in the Percival Lakes area surrounding Wirnpa and Kirriwirri soaks. Here they often met with Martu families coming from the north and west. Although her family knew about whitefellas and station and mission life, Ngalangka’s father was determined to remain living in the desert.

During a journey north to see Ngalangka’s two sisters in the Ngurarra (Joanna Springs) area, her father became critically ill. As the desert population continued to decrease, Ngalangka's family met with the Biljabu family. Together they lived in the Karlamilyi (Rudall River) region for a time. When Ngalangka’s father died, her family decided to move to Jigalong Mission, and in 1965 they walked into Balfour Downs Station. There they were picked up by Jigalong Mission staff. Ngalangka, like many others, felt a profound and long lasting sadness after having to leave her Country and adjust to life in a mission.

In Jigalong she began schooling, and continued her studies in Port Hedland. Subsequently Ngalangka moved to Strelley Aboriginal community, and then again to Jigalong. In Jigalong she was employed as a health worker, and here she remained until she married Nyarrie Morgan. Together Ngalangka and Nyarrie moved to Parnngurr Aboriginal community, where they continue to live as respected elders and community leaders with their children and grandchildren.

Ngalangka started painting with Martumili Artists in both oils and acrylics in 2000 and began weaving baskets in 2001. As a cultural advisor and translator she has been instrumental in the establishment and development of the group, and continues to tirelessly support Martu artists.

© the artist / art centre