Amy Johnson Jirwulurr
Born: Born 1953
Amy Johnson Jirwulurr is known for her naïve depictions of the plant and animal life found in the local land and billabong regions. Her genius lies in her innocent depictions which are enhanced with her choice of bright colour opposites. Her work often combines derivative bark painting and figurative styles similar to those by her famous husband, Sambo Burra Burra.
Generally the images of totemic animals are understood as representing inherited law from her husband. Many animals are associated with secret songs involving the search for sacred sites to enact the rituals surrounding circumcision and mortuary ceremonies. This right accompanied by her deep love and appreciation of her homeland and an awareness of the intricate cycles of plant and animal life is manifested in her work. These works reflect innocence and happiness as well as bright colours, which have become one of Jirwulurr’s trademarks.
Ngukurr, where Amy is from, was formerly a Mission Station established by the Church of England Mission Society in 1908 on the Roper River and was known as the Roper River Mission. The Church was replaced by a Government agency in 1968 and its name was changed to Ngukurr, which means a place of many stones.
In 1987 under the guidance of the Northern Territory Open College of TAFE, the people at Ngukurr on the Roper River had access for the first time to acrylic paint and canvas. The raw, bold and brightly coloured images that emerged shocked and defied preconceptions of Aboriginal art.
Amy Johnson Jirwulurr and Sambo Burra Burra are both committed painters and continually expand their repertoire, producing startling, powerful and very beautiful work.
Amy Johnson Jirwulurr is represented in major Australian public and private collections.
1991 – Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, High Court, Canberra, ACT
1991 – Aboriginal Women’s Exhibition, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, NSW
1992 – Aboriginal Women’s Exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, VIC
1992 – Aboriginal Women’s Exhibition, Tandanya, Adelaide, SA
1993 – Gold Coast City Art Award, Surfers Paradise, QLD
1995 – The 12th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin, NT
1997 – Ngundungunya: Art for Everyone, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, VIC
1993 – Rothmans Foundation Award, Northern Territory Aboriginal Art Award
Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, Rosemary Crumlin (ed.), Collins Dove, 1991
Aboriginal Art, Wally Caruana, Thames and Hudson, London, 1993
The 12th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Darwin, NT, 1995
Amy Johnson Jirwulurr is in most state and major private collections in Australia, including the Australian National Gallery, Canberra.