Esther Giles Nampitjinpa

Date of Birth: c. 1948

Region: Yumari, WA

Language: Ngaatjatjarra, Pintupi, Luritja

Esther Giles Nampitjinpa was born at Yumari, North of the Docker River in Western Australia. Esther is the sister of Tjawina Porter Nampitjinpa and Nyurapayia Nampitjinpa (Mrs. Bennett), she grew up “in the bush” with her family.  After her younger brother died her family decided to move to the then newly established government settlement of Papunya. Esther has now returned to live in her country with family members. She is known for her skill as a traditional basket weaver and wood carver as well as her prominence as a painter; Esther is regarded as a dynamic force in Australian art. As such Esther’s work is represented by private and corporate collections around the world. 

Esther paints her mother and fathers dreaming and the traditional homelands associated with her ancestral heritage. These include the sites of Yumari, Punkilpirri and Tjalili. These sites are important for ceremonies and as reliable sources for water and food plants. Esther’s works incorporate the sandunes (tali) and rock escarpments (puli) of her traditional homeland. The concentric circles in Aboriginal Art are loosely referred to as “waterholes”. More specifically the icon has a relationship to ceremonial locations. These may include particular rock formations, medicinal plants and food sources. The “grouping” of concentric circles relates to a series of sacred rites conducted during the time of creation. Ancestral being underwent transformations during ceremony at these sites, which are still visited during initiation by the most senior women (depicted by kidney shapes) but as this is regarded as “Tingari” which is secret, no further information is provided.