Maggie Nakamarra Corby

Maggie Nakamarra Corby (b.1951) was born at Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff) in Central Australia. She is the eldest daughter of renowned Papunya Tula artist Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula. After shifting between Mt Liebig, Papunya, Kintore and Kiwirrkurra, Corby – now in her senior years – has moved to Mparntwe (Alice Springs), and paints at Tangentyere Artists daily. Her father was a senior Law man, Rainmaker, and Custodian of the Water Dreaming, an important site of Kalipinypa – this season of abundance caused the song cycles of the Water Dreaming performed in ritual to resonate in her imagination and paintings of Country.1

Corby’s soft yellow hues, from light cream to bright yellow, envelop the canvas in Yalke (bush onion) – forming an interconnected system of organic shapes which appear to hover across the surface of her delicately layered yellow tones. While these abstracted forms are suggestive of a topographical view of Country unbound by borders, this work also holds within it important cultural knowledges, passed down to her by her mother and grandmothers.2 The yalke (bush onion) is a traditional and native food staple for Corby’s community, with the potential to germinate, proliferate, and nourish – the landscape here becomes an index of resources and meaning, embedded with the vital information necessary for people to survive this land.

  1. Short Street Gallery, “Maggie Nakamarra Corby,” accessed December 17, 2020,
  2. Ruth McMillan (arts coordinator, Tangentyere Artists), email message to author, February 8, 2021.