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BORN: c 1946

Michael Nelson Jagamara Born at Pikilyi, west of Yuendumu, of Warlpiri parents, Michael grew up 'without clothes', and recalls hiding in fear, upon his first sight of a white man at Mt Doreen Station.
His family lived in Alice Springs, Haasts Bluff, then in Yuendumu where Michael went to school.
At the age of thirteen, he went through the first rites of initiation.

His parents were both Walpiri and his father was an important "Medicine Man" in the Yuendumu community.

In the earlier years, from 1962, Michael  worked as a buffalo shooter on the East and South Alligator River plains and then as a truck driver and cattle drover.
He moved to Papunya in 1972.
By 1976, he was living in Papunya, working in the government store and later for the Council.
Michael became well educated and a qualified JP who sat on the magistrates' bench in court hearings at Papunya.
In 1998 he achieved prominence when his design was used for a mosaic in front of the new Parliament Housein Canberra. Michael is known for his depictions of several Dreamings in his paintings.
Since 2000, he has changed his style and palette of colours but still keeps to the canons of Walpiri mythology. Michael lives and works in Papunya.
Michael paints Possum, Snake, Two Kangaroos, Flying Ant, and Yam Dreamings for the area around Pikilyi, Mawitji and Warpurtali (Mt Singleton).

He first painted for Papunya Tula Artists under his own name in October 1983.

Michael Nelson is the custodian of numerous traditional stories, which have been passed down to him mainly from his father’s side.
Such stories are epic narratives and hold knowledge of laws and customs. Association comes through kinship and ceremonial involvement. MNJ’s new expressionist designs are ‘coded’ versions of these narratives. Sprinkles of paint over his ‘logos’ often represent the scattered feathers in ground painting designs.

The granite mosaic pavement in the open forecourt of the new Parliament House in Canberra was designed by Michael Nelson Tjakamarra. It represents our ancient continent and our oldest civilisation.

Artbank, Sydney.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
Australian Museum, Sydney.
Broken Hill Art Gallery.
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra.
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane.
The Holmes a Court Collection, Perth.
The Kelton Foundation, Santa Monica, U.S.A.

Individual Exhibitions
1989, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne;
1990, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne;


1984, Papunya and Beyond, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs;
1984, The First National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin;
1985, The Face of the Centre: Papunya Tula Paintings
1971-1984, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
1986, The Biennale of Sydney, Sydney; 1986, Roar Studios, Melbourne;
1987, State of the art: ideas & images of the 1980's, Institute of Contemporary Art, London. 1987, The Fourth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin;
1987, Papunya Tula:1982-1983, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne;
1988, Dreamings: the art of Aboriginal Australia, The Asia Society Galleries, New York.
1989, Papunya Tula: Contemporary Paintings from Australia's Western Desert, John Weber Gallery, New York, USA.
1989, Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City;
1989, A Myriad of Dreaming: Twentieth Century Aboriginal Art, Westpac Gallery, Melbourne; Design Warehouse Sydney [through Lauraine Diggins Fine Art]
1989, Aboriginal Art: The Continuing Tradition, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra;
1989, Windows on the Dreaming, Australian National Gallery, Canberra;
1990, National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome;
1990, Balance 1990: views, visions, influences, QAG, Brisbane  
1991, Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, High Court, Canberra;
1991, Flash Pictures, National Gallery of Australia;
1991, The Painted Dream: Contemporary Aboriginal Paintings from the Tim and Vivien Johnson Collection, Auckland City Art Gallery and Te Whare Taonga o Aoteroa National Art Gallery, New Zealand;
1991, Alice to Penzance, The Mall Galleries, The Mall, London;
1992, Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Exhibition, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs; 1992, Crossroads-Towards a New Reality, Aboriginal Art from Australia, National Museums of Modern Art, Kyoto and Tokyo;
1993, Aboriginal Art Exhibition, Kung Gubunga,Oasis Gallery, Broadbeach,Qld;
1993, Tjukurrpa, Desert Dreamings, Aboriginal Art from Central Australia  (1971-1993), Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth WA;
1993/4, ARATJARA, Art of the First Australians, Touring: Kunstammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf; Hayward Gallery, London; Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark

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