Nyunmiti Burton (b. 1960) is an artist, teacher and community leader from Amata in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, a community situated south of Uluru close to the Northern Territory border, in northern South Australia. Born in Alice Springs and having grown up in Pukatja (Ernabella), Burton moved to Amata aged twenty where she took up the role of Aboriginal Education Worker. She subsequently became a qualified teacher and spent many years working at the Amata School.

Today, Burton is a senior Pitjantjatjara woman – a desert matriarch. A leader in her community, she is the currentVice Chairperson of Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women’s Council, she teaches Pitjantjatjara at the University of South Australia and is a co-director of the APY Art Centre Collective. Alongside her advocacy work and cultural leadership, Burton is a highly esteemed artist whose large-scale canvases depict her country and Tjukurpa (ancestral law, culture and creation stories) in bold swathes of colour. “Many, many years I’ve been working as a teacher…then I chose to come to work at Tjala Arts [the art centre]… Every day I came to do painting because I’ve got in my head Tjurkupa– that’s all I’m doing.”[1]

[1]Nyunmiti Burton, Radio National, “Beneath the canvas of Tjala Arts”, 14 July, 2015, 15:38 mins

Articles and Books

Cumpston, Nici. Tarnanthi 2021. Adelaide: Art Gallery of South Australia. 2021

Ed. Wattler, Anna. Kuḻaṯa Tjuṯa. Adelaide: Government of South Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, APY Art Centre Collective. 2020.

Stories from Our Spirit: Nyunmiti Burton, Sylvia Ken, Barbara Moore. Parap, Northern Territory: Outstation, 9 – 30 March, 2019. Exhibition catalogue.

Syron, Mikele. “APY Lands artist Nyunmiti Burton wins Telstra NATSIAA People’s Choice award.SBS. 29 Jan, 2021.

Websites

Art Gallery of New South Wales. “Nyunmiti Burton: Seven Sisters.” 2020.

APY Art Centre Collective. “Nyunmiti Burton.” Accessed 28 September, 2021.

Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council. “Nyunmiti Burton”. Accessed 28 September, 2021.

Videos, Podcasts and Audio

Radio National. “Beneath the canvas of Tjala Arts.” 14 July, 2015. 15:38 mins.

When I paint, I think about my country… I think about the past and about the future. I think about my ngura [land/home], where me, my children and grandchildren live. I think about the stories my father and grandparents shared with us. And I also think about my children and grandchildren’s future, the next generation
Nyunmiti Burton, Stories from Our Spirit: Nyunmiti Burton, Sylvia Ken, Barbara Moore, Parap, Northern Territory: Outstation, 9 – 30 March, 2019, exhibition catalogue, p5
Nyunmiti Burton with Kungkarangkalpa – Seven Sisters, 2020, Adelaide

Nyunmiti Burton with Kungkarangkalpa – Seven Sisters, 2020, Adelaide; photo: APY Art Centre Collective.

Burton learnt Kungkarangkalpa from her own mother. She has early recollections of her mother dancing and her father singing. Recall your earliest memory of a parent or grandparent. Write this memory down and now create a drawing to complement your written recall.

Think about a tradition or belief that your parents or grandparents have passed down in your family. What are some things that are unique to your family? Create a painting that will help to keep your family tradition or belief strong for future generations.

Read a well-known creation story as a class. While listening to the narrator, create an illustration to accompany this story.

Nyunmiti Burton, Pitjantjatjara people, South Australia, born Mparntwe (Alice Springs), Northern Territory 1960, Kungkarangkalpa – Seven Sisters, 2020, Adelaide, synthetic polymer paint on linen, 290.0 x 290.0 cm; Gift of Anna Baillie-Karas, Mary Choate, Amanda Harkness, Jacqui McGill, Peter and Pamela McKee, Zena Winser through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 20th Anniversary Collectors Club 2020 Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide c Nyunmiti Burton/APY Art Centre Collective

Nyunmiti Burton, Pitjantjatjara people, South Australia, born 1960, Mparntwe (Alice Springs), Northern Territory, Kungkarangkalpa- Seven Sisters, 2020, Adelaide, synthetic polymer paint on linen, 290.0 x 290.0 cm; Gift of Anna Baillie-Karas, Mary Choate, Amanda Harkness, Jacqui McGill, Peter and Pamela McKee, Zena Winser through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 20th Anniversary Collectors Club 2020, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Nyunmiti Burton | APY Art Centre Collective, photo: Grant Hancock.

Kungkarangkalpa

Making and responding activities

Tarnanthi is presented by the Art Gallery of South Australia with Principal Partner BHP and support from the Government of South Australia

The Gallery’s Learning programs are supported by the Department for Education.

This education resource has been developed and written in collaboration Dr. Belinda Howden, Kylie Neagle and Dr. Lisa Slade.