Warlukurlangu: About the Artists of Yuendumu

Photo credit: Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation

Where: Yuendumu, 300km of Alice Springs, Australia
When: Established in 1985
Who: Over 600 Aboriginal artists from Yuendumu and Nyirripi
Language: Warlpiri
Materials: Canvas, acrylic paint
Values: 100% Aboriginal owned

About Warlukurlangu Artists

Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation is a not-for-profit organisation that is 100% owned by Aboriginal artists. Operating since 1985, the organisation is made up of artists from Yuendumu and Nyirripi, two remote communities in the Central Australian desert. The name 'Warlukurlangu' is taken from a fire dreaming site outside Yuendumu and translates to 'belonging to fire' in the local language, Warlpiri.

Photo credit: Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation
Everyone from Yuendumu and Nyirripi is welcome to come to Warlukurlangu to paint. The managers of the centre strive to ensure the artists feel safe and comfortable in the space. The artists are inspired to paint for a number of reasons. Many enjoy the social aspect of the centre and find painting rewarding because it is meaningful. One of the common motivations to paint is to share traditional culture and keep it alive. The artists paint to pass on knowledge to the next generation, as well as to share their culture with the wider community in Australia and overseas.
Often families paint together at the art centre. Grandparents can be seen painting with their grandchildren, passing on stories and teaching the younger ones traditional cultural designs. The sound of singing can often be heard at Warlukurlangu as some of the older generation sing songs about the stories they are painting.
Photo credit: Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation

Jukurrpa (Dreaming)

The artists mainly paint Jukurrpa (dreaming) - stories about country and the natural world that have been passed down through generations for thousands of years. Themes include Ngapa Jukurrpa (water dreaming), Warlu Jukurrpa (fire dreaming), Janganpa Jukurrpa (brush-tail possum dreaming), Karnta Jukurrpa (women's dreaming), Malikijarra Jukurrpa (two dog dreaming), Yanjirlpirri Jukkurpa (star dreaming) and/or Napaljarri-wanu Jukurrpa (seven sisters dreaming) and Puurda manu Wanakiji Jukurrpa (yam and bush tomato dreaming).

The artists also depict the land, plants and animals in their paintings, such as Puli (rock formations), yurrampi (honey ants) and wapunungka (white gum trees). Some artworks portray body painting designs, song lines and dance circles.

Photo credit: Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation


The artists at Warlukurlangu have two different income streams from their paintings. The first is the sale of their original artworks, and the second is royalties from their designs being printed on products such as wall hangings, homewares and accessories. Royalties are calculated as a percentage of the total sales for each artist's design. The actual figure paid to artists cannot be published because there are confidential license contracts between the suppliers and the artists, as is the norm with all contracts between any two parties. However the royalties paid are above average for the industry.

Artists receive the royalty payments monthly. For artists that have agreements with Better World Arts, the artists receive payment for original paintings on the alternate fortnight of each month. The alternation of royalty and painting payments gives the artists a fortnightly income.     

Other benefits of artist royalties

Royalty payments can continue to provide an income long after the artwork has initially been chosen for a product. Artists are able to nominate family members to receive their royalties after they pass away, enabling their family to have an ongoing income. Better World Arts also enables artists to receive an advance on royalties for travelling to visit family, buying a car, food and other necessities. The advance is repaid in small, steady amounts from incoming royalty payments.


We stock products from Alperstein Designs and Better World Arts, two manufacturers who partner with Warlukurlangu Artists to print their designs onto products.

Learn more about Better World Arts here.

Support the Artists

The Fair Trader currently has two original artworks available from Warlukurlangu artists. They are framed and ready to be hung in your home.

Judith Nungarrayi Martin - 'Janganpa Jukurrpa' (Brush-tail Possum Dreaming)

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Judith Nungarrayi Martin is an Aboriginal artist from Yuendumu, 300km of Alice Springs. Her mother, Helen Nampijinpa Robertson and Grandfather, Shorty Jangala Robertson, are also celebrated artists. Judith has memories of watching her family paint and listening to their stories when she was growing up. When Judith had kids of her own, she started to paint full time.

"I wanted to paint the stories to teach my kids.

- Judith Nungarrayi Martin

Judith paints her father's Jukurrpa (Dreaming) - stories about country and the natural world that have been passed down through generations for thousands of years. This artwork is about Janganpa Jukurrpa (Brush-tail Possum Dreaming). Titled 'Mawurrji', it takes its name from a large hill west of Yuendumu and north of Pikilyi (Vaughan Springs).

Cecily Napanangka Granites - 'Karnta Jukurrpa' (Women's Dreaming)

Cecily Napanangka Granites is an Aboriginal artist from Yuendumu, 300km of Alice Springs. Born in 1975, Cecily was raised by her Grandmother. Cecily paints Jukurrpa (dreaming) - stories about country and the natural world that have been passed down through generations for thousands of years. This painting is of Karnta Jukurrpa which means 'Women's Dreaming' in her language, Warlpri. They are the stories from her Grandmother's side.
Cecily is part of the Walukurlangu Artists Association in Yuendumu and she has been painting with them since 2008.

Better World Arts

Alperstein Designs