Paddy Lewis (1928-2011)Paddy was a senior lawman of the Walpiri tribe and custodian of Mina Mina Lakes located more than 400 km north west of Alice Springs and west of Mt Doreen and Yuendumu in the Northern Territory.
Paddy Lewis Japanangka was also the father of highly acclaimed artist Dorothy Napangardi (whose work is represented in the collection of our national gallery).
Like many Indigenous Elders, Paddy was sight restricted for many years. After a successful government sponsored operation, he asked for a “painting stick” and began the most important body of work of his lifetime.
In 2008, Trevor Victor Harvey Gallery in Sydney curated Paddy Lewis Japanangka’s first solo show of important lifetime works. This is significant when considering that an academic paper will be published on this exhibition, with the publication to be headed by highly acclaimed author, Susan McCulloch. Paddy has been included in a number of international shows and in many important private collections. He was a part of the Warlukurlangu project, which resulted in the Yuendumu doors collections that is now an international touring exhibition.
The country associated with this Jukurrpa is Mina Mina, a place far to the west of Yuendumu, which is significant to Napangardi/Napanangka women and Japangardi/Japanangka men. All of them are the custodians of the Jukurrpa that created the area. The Jukurrpa story tells of the journey of a group of women of all ages who travelled to the east gathering food, collecting ‘ngalyipi’ (snake vine [Tinospora smilacina]) and performing ceremonies as they travelled. The women began their journey at Mina Mina where ‘karlangu’ (digging sticks) emerged from the ground. Taking these implements the women travelled east creating Janyinki and other sites. Their journey took them far to the east beyond the boundaries of Warlpiri country. The ‘ngalyipi’ vine grows up the trunks and limbs of the ‘kurrkara’ (desert oak [Allocasuarina decaisneana]) trees. ‘Ngalyipi’ is a sacred vine to Napangardi and Napanangka women that has many uses. It can be used as a ceremonial wrap, as a strap to carry ‘parrajas’ (wooden bowls} that are laden with bush tucker and as a tourniquet for headaches.