Michael Nelson Tjakamarra

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He was born in 1949 Australia.

Michael Nelson Tjakamarra is an indigenous Australian painter.


Tjakamarra was born at Vaughan Springs in the Northern Territory in the year 1949. He first saw white men at Mount Doreen Station and remembers hiding in the bush in fear. Michael lived at Haasts Bluff for a time with the same family group as Long Jack Phillipus Tjakammara. Later his parents took him to Yuendumu for European education at the mission school. He left school after initiation and worked pig shooting, driving trucks, droving cattle and was in the Army before coming back to Yuendumu and then to Papunya to settle and marry his current wife. He moved to Papunya in 1976 and worked in the government store and observed the work of many of the older artists for many years before he began to paint regularly in 1983.[1]

His parents were both Walpiri and his father was an important "Medicine Man" in the Yuendumu community. After his father's death in 1976, Michael worked under the instruction of his uncle Jack Tjurpurrula. Michael paints Possum, Snake, Two Kangaroos, Flying Ant and Yam Dreamings for the area around Pikilyi. He won the National Aboriginal Art Award in September 1984[2][3] In 1987 an 8.2 m (27 ft) long painting by Jagamarra was installed in the foyer of the Sydney Opera House.[4] He was introduced to Queen Elizabeth II in 1988 at the opening of the New Parliament House as the designer of the 196 square metre mosaic in the forecourt of the building.[5] His 1985 painting "Five Stories"[6] was one of the most reproduced works of Australian Art in the 1980s. It appeared on the cover of the catalogue of the Asia Society's "Dreamings" exhibition []which toured the USA in 1988-90.[7] Jagamarra travelled to New York City with Billy Stockman Japaltjarri for the opening of the show. In 1989 he had his first solo exhibition in Melbourne at the Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi and participated in the BMW Art Car Project by hand painting an M3 race car.[1][8]


Michael Nelson Jakamarra has exhibited his work in many exhibitions (including several solo exhibitions) and these include: Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne; Utopia Art, Sydney; Australian National Gallery, Canberra; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; John Webber Gallery, New York. After these exhibitions, Jakamarra was tired, so he decided not to 'exhibit' anymore.



  • Johnson, V., Aboriginal Artists of the Western Desert - A Biographical Dictionary
  • Brody, A., 1985, The face of the centre: Papunya Tula paintings 1971-1984, NGV, Melbourne.
  • Caruana, W. (ed.), 1989, Windows on the Dreaming, Ellsyd Press, Sydney.
  • Caruana, W., 1993, Aboriginal Art, Thames and Hudson, London.
  • Chanin, E., 1990, (ed.), Contemporary Australian Painting, Craftsman House, Roseville, NSW, Australia.
  • Cochrane, G., 1992, The Crafts Movement in Australia: a History, New South Wales University Press, Kensington, New South Wales.
  • Crumlin, R., (ed.), 1991, Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, Collins Dove, North Blackburn, Victoria.
  • Johnson, V., 1994, Aboriginal Artists of the Western Desert - A biographical dictionary, Craftsman House, East Roseville, New South Wales.
  • Johnson, V. Michael Nelson Tjakamarra - book. 1993.
  • Aratjara, Art of the First Australians: Traditional and Contemporary Works by Aboriginal and *Torres Strait Islander Artists, exhib. cat. (conceived and designed by Bernard Luthi in collaboration with Gary Lee), Dumont, Buchverlag, Koln.
  • Smith, B. with Smith T., 1991, Australian Painting 1788-1990, Oxford University Press, 3rd edition,
  • Sutton, P. (ed.), 1988, Dreamings: the Art of Aboriginal Australia, Viking, Ringwood, Victoria.
  • 1990, Papunya Tula, exhib. cat., Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne.
  • 1993, Tjukurrpa Desert Dreamings, Aboriginal Art from Central Australia (1971–1993), exhib. cat., Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.


  1. ^ a b Aboriginal Artists of the Western Desert - A Biographical Dictionary.
  2. ^ "Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA)". Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-18. 
  3. ^ "Northern Territory Chronicle 1984" (PDF). Northern Territory Government. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  4. ^ "International Herald Tribune - Michael Nelson Tjakamarra". Aboriginal Art News. 28 August 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  5. ^ "Architecture and Art". Australian Parliament House. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  6. ^ "Five Dreamings painting". South Australian Museum. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  7. ^ "Dreamings: the Art of the Aboriginal Australia". Asia Story. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  8. ^ "Mutukayi: Motor cars and Papunya painting, with Vivien Johnson, John Kean, Jeremy Long and Dr Peter Thorley". National Museum of Australia. Retrieved 2008-10-31.