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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe

Shirley Purdie

Previous exhibition
from Saturday 6 June until Sunday 29 November 2020
© Shirley Purdie/Copyright Agency, 2020
© Shirley Purdie/Copyright Agency, 2020

"It’s good to learn from old people. They keep saying when you paint you can remember that Country, just like to take a photo, but there’s the Ngarranggarni (Dreaming) and everything. Good to put it in painting, your Country, so kids can know and understand. When the old people die, young people can read the stories from the paintings. They can learn from the paintings and maybe they want to start painting too."

© Shirley Purdie/Copyright Agency, 2020
Video: 5 minutes 47 seconds

In Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe (From my women), Shirley Purdie pays homage to the women in her family, representing herself through collective knowledge, culture and values. Acquired by the Portrait Gallery in September 2019, this non-representational self portrait is informed by Aboriginal ways of seeing and understanding the world. Each panel contains a story, producing a portrait that is a complex kaleidoscope of personal history, identity and connection to country.

Purdie has lived on Gija Country in Western Australia’s East Kimberley all her life. Her cultural knowledge and artistic skill complement each other to produce a practice that holds great strength. She is a prominent leader in Warmun Community and an incisive cross-cultural communicator. Inspired by more senior Warmun artists, including her late mother, the great Madigan Thomas, as well as Rover Thomas and Queenie McKenzie, Purdie began to paint her Country in the early 1990s. Shirley’s uncle, artist Jack Britten, said to her, ‘Why don’t you try yourself for painting, you might be all right’. Working at the Warmun Art Centre, established in 1998, Purdie is dedicated to perpetuating Gija stories and language for young people.

Related people

Shirley Purdie

Related information

Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe
Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe
Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe
Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe

Storied portrait

About Face article

27 May 2020

Emily Casey takes in Shirley Purdie’s remarkable self-portrait, Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe.

Collection display in Gallery Five, 2019
Collection display in Gallery Five, 2019
Collection display in Gallery Five, 2019
Collection display in Gallery Five, 2019

Collection display galleries

Current exhibition

Currently closed

The collection display includes a wide selection of portraits that tell extraordinary stories of encounter, exploration, independence, individuality and achievement in Australia.

Jessica Mauboy, 2018 David Rosetzky
Jessica Mauboy, 2018 David Rosetzky
Jessica Mauboy, 2018 David Rosetzky
Jessica Mauboy, 2018 David Rosetzky

Before hand

The private life of a portrait

Previous exhibition, 2020

Revealing the backstories behind the NPG collection, Before hand features interviews with artists and sitters as well as working drawings, scrapbooks, sketches and footage taken in artists’ studios and out on location.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

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Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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