Candy Nelson Nakamarra

LURITJA, Born 1964

Born in Yuendumu, at the edge of the Tanami Desert roughly 350kms from Alice Springs, Candy Nelson Nakamarra was first introduced to art making as a child by her father Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula(1925-2001), a renowned artist at the forefront of the Papunya art movement in the 1970s and 80s.

Candy learned to paint while being handed down family stories of Kalipinypa, the sacred Water Dreaming site north east of Kintore, and continues to be inspired by this cultural inheritance. An instinctive colourist, her primary consideration when approaching a new work is the selection of seven or eight colours that will make up the lacelike layers for which her paintings have become known, and she will often revisit her archive to analyse favourite combinations. Working on the ground, she begins each canvas with a coat of drips and washes in a handful of watered down colours. Once dry, she uses fine brushes to paint intricate designs in high contrasting colour, then adds a third layer of design in the original base colours.

Throughout this process Candy seeks feedback from her peers and mentors, discussing ideas and approaches as she pushes the canvas towards the moment it feels finished. Each painting transforms multiple times as she reinterprets her father’s stories, the tali (sandhills), rock formations, waterholes and running water of her country during storm season, and the water birds, bush foods, and plant life that erupt after rain has reinvigorated the landscape.

Candy Nelson Nakamarra began painting professionally in 2009 and won the Interrelate Prize of the Wollotuka Acquisitive Art Prize, University of Newcastle, in 2012. Her work is held in public and corporate art collections including Parliament House Canberra, Macquarie Bank, and the Hassall Collection, and has been included in notable exhibitions throughout Australia and internationally such as Salon des Refusés, Sydney (2021, 2018, 2016, 2015); Tarnanthi, Art Gallery of South Australia (2020); Desert Mob, Araluen Arts Centre, NT (2020, 2018, 2017, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009); Art Karlsruhe, Germany (2018, 2017); Papunya Tjupi: New Work, JGM Art, London UK (2018); Papunya Tjupi Arts, Incinerator Art Space, Willoughby NSW (2017, 2016); START2017, Straßburg, France (2017); Another Country: Art Aborigene Contemporain, IDAIA: International Development For Australian Indigenous Art, Paris, France (2016); Nampatjunanyi: Paint & Draw​, Redot Gallery, Singapore (2016); Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair; Darwin (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010); Streets of Papunya: The Reinvention of Papunya Painting, touring RMIT Gallery, Melbourne (2016), Flinders University Gallery, Adelaide (2016), Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra (2016), UNSW Galleries, Sydney (2015); Papunya Tjupi Artists, IDAIA: International Development For Australian Indigenous Art and Galerie Karin Carton, Paris, France (2012); Papunya Tjupi Arts, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide (2011); Introducing Papunya Tjupi and Ampilatawatja, Gallery Gondwanna, Alice Springs (2009); and Building Papunya Tjupi, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Art, University of NSW, Sydney (2009).

Carrie McCarthy 2022