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Women's pictures

Warlpiri Drawings: Remembering the Future

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Women's pictures

The drawings made by women are stylistically very different to those made by men.

Mervyn Meggitt, 1965

A black and white photo of a group of four women, two children and two babies.
Elizabeth Nungarrayi (child at front centre) standing in front of Liddy Nakamarra (left), Joan Meggitt, Beryl Nakamarra, Jardingarli Napanangka and Penny Nangala (far right). In the carrying bowls are babies Theresa Nungarrayi, Jeannie Nungarrayi and Susan Nungarrayi. Meggitt Collection, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, N0390.361.

Joan Meggitt and Warlpiri women

While Mervyn Meggitt’s research was undertaken with men, he learned of women’s perspectives through his wife, Joan, who worked as matron of the Hooker Creek ‘hospital’.

Joan worked alongside and was befriended by several Warlpiri women, some of whom were domestic workers and wives of men who contributed to her husband’s research. She collected a small number of drawings from these women.

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Women's work

While Abe Jangala and Larry Jungarrayi found motivation and time to create drawings with considerable effort and care, the women’s drawings appear by comparison to have been produced quickly. This probably reflects the setting in which the women made their drawings, for they were not directly involved in Meggitt’s research and were occupied with the pressing needs of small children and family, as well as the demands of their work.

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