Niningka Munkuri Lewis | Artist Profile

Details of Niningka Munkuri Lewis


Mother's Country: Ngaanyatjarra Lands, Western Australia
Father's Country: Near Pipylatjara, APY Lands
Dreaming: Wanampi

Niningka was born in the bush in 1945 at a place north of Areyonga. Her parents had previously come to live at Ernabella but were on holiday on foot, as people would do every year still at that time. As a baby she came to Ernabella and grew up here, accompanying her family on annual holidays to many places such as Angus Downs, Curtin Springs and Imanpa. After school she worked at the Ernabella Mission craft room, where Winifred Hilliard taught her how to spin sheep’s wool and weave rugs. She moved to Amata as a young woman and worked in the clinic before settling in Kalka where she married and had one son. She moved then to nearby Kalka where she developed her skills in batik, and went on to be one of the supervisors for the Kalka women’s centre. It was around the same time, in 1997, that Niningka was introduced to coiled basketry. Niningka is also an expert woodcarver, who made punu carvings for Maruku at Uluru. She often decorates her baskets with these small figurative carvings, or other applied decorations like emu feathers, ininti seeds, and overstitched or embroidered designs, as well as brightly coloured wool/raffia patterns woven into her baskets. Her talents as a sculptor are also apparent in the range of forms she creates, including baskets, hats, sandals, cups, saucepans, birds and even small motor cars. Niningka made the first life-sized grass figure for the Tjanpi Manguri Weaving exhibition in 2000 that anticipated the Tjanpi DesertWeavers’ move into figurative sculpture-making. This saw them win the NATSIAAs with their tjanpi Toyota sculpture. Niningka is highly regarded for her innovative creativity. When Niningka’s husband sadly passed away, she came back to Ernabella to be at home and to spend time with her older sister, Pantjiti Lionel. She now works at the Ernabella again, painting, making tjanpi, punu, mukata (beanies) and ceramics. Niningka has been concentrating on her painting since 2009. This has seen her Highly Commended in the painting section of the 2010 NATSIAAS and in 2011 she had her first solo exhibition, at Melbourne's Alcaston Gallery.

Niningka has worked with tjanpi desert weavers on recent collaborations which have been exhibited at the MCA in Sydney, the ArtGallery of South Australia and Tarrawarra 2014 Biennale. In 2015 Niningka experimented for the first time using resin, incorporating resin sculptures into contemporary jewellery. Her contemporary jewellery work has been exhibited at JamFactory, Adelaide, Northern Centre for Contemporary Art and Whistlewood, Victoria. In 2014 and 2015 she had solo exhibitions at Tunbridge Gallery, WA. In 2016 Niningka along with five other Ernabella women created a collaborative tjanpi work that was shortlisted for the NATSIAAs.


2016 - Niningka Lewis : My stories - Tunbridge Gallery, Perth WA
2014 - Niningka Lewis - Tunbridge Gallery, Perth WA
2011 - Ara irititja munu ara kuwaritja Ernabella-la - Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne VIC


2017 - Short St Gallery, Broome, WA
2017 - Ngura Kutjupa, Walytja Kutju: Different communities, one family - Tangentyere Artists, Alice Springs, NT
2017 - Relative Colours - Aboriginal Contemporary, Sydney, NSW
2016 - Nganampa Kililpi Kuwartija Tjuta pakani: Our Rising Stars - Hazelhurst Regional Community Gallery, NSW
2016 - Nganampa Kililpil: Our Stars - Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre
2016 - Inheritance - Salt Contemporary, Queenscliff, VIC
2016 - Desert Mob, Araluen Arts Centre
2016 - Spring Salon + Art Parade McCulloch & McCulloch - Whistlewood, Shoreham, VIC
2016 - Malpa Wiru - Signal Point Gallery
2016 - Art from the APY Lands - Woolloongabba Art Gallery, Brisbane, QLD
2016 - ARTMART 2016: Resin, Rubber and Other Potent Means - Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, Darwin, NT
2016 - Launch Exhibition, The Indigenous Jewellery Project + Autumn Salon - Whistlewood, Shoreham, VIC
2015 - Tjukurpa Kunpu / Strong Culture: HOLIDAY SHOW 2015-2016 - Harvey Art Projects, USA
2015 - Our Mob - Adelaide Festival Centre
2015 - Jewellery has always been here - Jam Factory, Adelaide
2015 - Desert Mob, Araluen Arts Centre
2014 - Desert Mob 2014 - Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs NT
2014 - Pilanypa - Harvey Art Projects, Idaho USA
2014 - Whisper in My Mask, TarraWarra Biennial
2014 - TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville VIC
2014 - Bold and the Beautiful - Talapi, Alice Springs
2014 - Eastern APY Lands: ArtKelch - Touring Freiburg, Munich, Hamburg and Bodensee, Germany
2013 - Desert Mob 2013 - Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs NT
2013 - String Theory, Focus on Contemporary Australian Art - MCA, Sydney NSW
2013 - Putitja: From the Bush - Strathnairn Arts, Canberra ACT
2013 - Nyinnga: the Cold Time of the Year - Harvey Art Projects, Idaho, USA
2012 - Tjamuku Kamiku Tjukurpa - Outstation Gallery, Darwin NT
2012 - Desert Mob - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs NT
2012 - Wanampi, Ngintaka and Other Epic Stories - Talapi Gallery, Alice Springs NT
2012 - Kapi Ukalinganyi - Aboriginal and Pacific Art, Sydney NSW
2011 - Tjukurpa Irititja, Walka Kuwaritja - Marshall Arts, Adelaide SA
2011 - Ernabella Undiscovered - Tunbridge Gallery, Margaret River WA
2011 - Strong Women Strong Painting Strong Culture - Cessnock Regional Art Gallery, Hunter Valley NSW
2011 - Tjukurpa nyangatja ngananala unngu ngaranyi - Aboriginal and Pacific Art, Sydney NSW
2011 - Ernabella Arts Kuwari - Chapman Gallery, Canberra ACT
2011 - Desert Mob - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs NT
2010 - Ngura Nganampa (Our Country) - Outstation Gallery, Darwin, NT
2010 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Awards - Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory, Darwin NT
2010 - Recent Paintings - Chapman Gallery, Manuka, ACT
2010 - Kayili and Ernabella 2010 - Aboriginal and Pacific Art, Sydney, NSW
2010 - Ara irititja munu ara kuwaritja Ernabella-la - Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne VIC
2010 - Ngayuku Nguru - JamFactory, Adelaide SA
2010 - Desert Mob - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT
2010 - Generation Next - Randell Lane Fine Art, Perth, WA
2009 - Celebrating Country: Kinship & Culture - Seymour College, Adelaide, SA
2009 - Our Mob - Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide, SA
2009 - Desert Mob - Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, NT (with Tjanpi Desert Weavers and Ernabella Arts)
2009 - Kuru Alala - Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Surfers Paradise, QLD
2009 - Menagerie - Object Gallery and Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW
2008 - Anangu Backyard - Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide, SA
2008 - Desert Mob - Araluen Centre, Alice Springs, NT (with Tjanpi Desert Weavers and Ernabella Arts) Alice Springs (with Maruku Arts)
2007 - Tjanpi Tjuta - Fabric of Life/Adelaide Fringe Festival, Adelaide, SA
2007 - Recoil: Change and Exchange in Coiled Fibre Art - Araluen Centre, Alice Springs (then touring 2008, 2009, 2010)
2006 - Artist in Residence - Mulgara Gallery, Yulara, NT
2001 - Ripe - 24 Hour Art, Darwin & Watch this space, Alice Springs, NT
2000 - Essential Truths, Readily to Hand - Adelaide Festival, Adelaide, SA
1999 - Dry Lands Further Out - Hill City Gallery, NSW (with Maruku Arts)
1999 - Die Welt der Aborigines - Gallerie Handwerk, Munich, Germany (with Maruku Arts)
1998 - SOFA - Chicago, USA (with Maruku Arts) 1998- 2002
1992 - Desert Crafts - Hogarth Galleries, NSW (with Maruku Arts)
1992 - Maruku Arts and Craft Exhibition - Parliament House, Canberra (with Maruku Arts)
1989 - Minymaku: Work of the NPY Womens Council - Araluen Centre, Alice Springs (with Maruku Arts)


Malara (Part of the Rainbow Serpent Tjukurpa)
Mission days in Ernabella
Old way/New way - Changing culture for Anangu Pitjantjatjara
Travel and hunting in the Toyota


ARTBANK, 2009, 2012
W. & V. MCGEOCH, 2011


2012 - Watson, Penny. 'Tjanpi Desert Weavers' Macmillan
2012 - 'Tjanpi Desert Weavers' Macmillan Mini-Art Series #19
2012 - West, Margie and Foster, Jo ‘Tjanpi Desert WeaversPaarpakani: Tjanpi Desert Weavers take flight’ pp. 62-71 in 'Deadly. In-between Heaven and Hell' FulviaMantelli and Renee Johnson


2016 - Finalist (collaborative), National Aboriginal and TorresStrait Islander Art Award
2012 - Finalist, Gold Coast International Ceramic Art Award

Artworks of Niningka Munkuri Lewis

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