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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.

Dayiwool Ngarranggarni (Arygle dreaming)

by Shirley Purdie

“These three woman (three circles), they been rolling that spinifex by the water and that barramundi been jump through (the hills). This country is for my other great-great grandmother, that’s for my mother for grandmother, my mother’s father’s mother.”

The country Shirley illustrates here is Dayiwool or Argyle. That was Shirley’s maternal great-grandmother’s country. Shirley paints the Ngarranggarni associated with her great-grandmother’s country. In this dreaming, there were three women rolling spinifex, which is depicted by the green ochre. The barramundi jumped through the gap between the hills. A long time ago, there was no gap in those hills, and the story of the barramundi explains how the gap formed between those hills. Also, a long time ago, when Gija people used to go fishing, barramundi would get stuck while trying to swim through the spinifex, which was used as a net. There is a song for this dreaming, which Shirley has been taught to sing, and often performs nowadays at Argyle, during Welcome to Country ceremonies.

Related information

Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe, 2018 Shirley Purdie
Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe, 2018 Shirley Purdie
Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe, 2018 Shirley Purdie
Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe, 2018 Shirley Purdie

Storied portrait

About Face article

27 May 2020

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

Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 (detail) by Linde Ivimey
Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 (detail) by Linde Ivimey
Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 (detail) by Linde Ivimey
Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 (detail) by Linde Ivimey

So Fine

Contemporary women artists make Australian history

Previous exhibition, 2018

This exhibition features new works from ten women artists reinterpreting and reimagining elements of Australian history, enriching the contemporary narrative around Australia’s history and biography, reflecting the tradition of storytelling in our country.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

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© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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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.