Nura Rupert: Mamu and Mischief

Elizabeth Close

Colourful artwork of a person sitting on a camel

Nura Rupert, Camela, 2004, screenprint, 30.4 x 39.2 cm (image), edition 3/35, printed by Basil Hall, Pukatja/Ernabella Arts Community Collection, Flinders University Museum of Art TAN 1264.162, © the artist / Ernabella Arts Inc, image courtesy FUMA

About the exhibition

Curated by Elizabeth Close

Nura Rupert: Mamu and Mischief features paintings and prints by Nura Rupert. Kami Nura was a Ngangkari – a traditional Anangu healer. Nura could see Mamu (bad spirits) and the ways in which the Papa Tjuta (camp dogs) protected Anangu from Mamu. These works give us a precious glimpse through the eyes of a Ngangkari that could see more than most.

This exhibition draws on works housed by Flinders University Museum of Art including from the Ernabella Archive.

Supported by Arts South Australia, the In_Site: First Nations Emerging Curator Program is a partnership between Nexus Arts and Flinders University Museum of Art.

Unless marked, all works in this exhibition are drawn from the Pukatja/Ernabella Arts Community Collection, which is owned by Ernabella Arts Inc on behalf of Pukatja Community and held by Flinders University Museum of Art as custodian.


Catalogue essay

Nura Rupert: Mamu and Mischief

Curated by Elizabeth CloseAs a Pitjantjatjara and Yunkunytjatjara woman, I have always wanted to work with theErnabella Archive whichisowned byErnabella Arts on behalf ofPukatjaCommunity andhousedby FlindersUniversity Museum of Art. My Grandmother was born and removedfromErnabella, orPuktaja, as it’s now known.I have other family:Tjamu’sandKami’s(Grandfathers and Grandmothers), nieces and nephews, Aunties and Uncles, who still livethere.Ernabellaartistsare well known for their ceramic and batik work. As a painter myself, Iwanted to look at the collection through a painter’s lens. As I searched, one artist stood out–Nura Rupert. Nura’s playfulness and repeated motifs ofMamu(bad spirits) andPapa Tjuta(camp dogs) kept me returning to her paintings, questioning why this imagery featured soprominently in her work.Nura Rupert is family. She is one of my many AnanguKami, and this year she would havebeen 90 years old. Her son Mulayingu Ruperthas described his mum to myTjamuandKamias joyful, alwayshappy,and full of laughter.KamiNura was also aNgankari–a traditionalAnangu healer gifted with the power to see sickness, trauma,Mamu, and other causes of illhealth or physical or psychological pain. She could see more than otherNgankari. Nuracould seeMamuand the ways in which thePapa Tjutaprotected Anangu fromMamu. Theywere not only a source of warmth and comfort, but also a source of protection.Nura’s vibrant works reflect her cheeky andmischievousattitude–dancing with movement,light and energy; I can see, hear and feel her laughter and mischief.

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Meet the artists & curators

Elizabeth Close is a Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara woman from the APY Lands in Central Australia. Based in Adelaide, Elizabeth’s art practice evolved from canvas beginnings to also include large scale public art and digital design. Her work is a unique and distinct fusion of contemporary and traditional Aboriginal Art, using vivid warmth to convey the landscape of the APY while also drawing upon socio-political themes of identity, forced removal policies, loss of culture, and intergenerational trauma.

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