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Malcolm Jagamarra was born in the outback – the son of a Walpiri woman, Minnie Napananga and an Irish bushman, Gerry Maloney. As a child he travelled the land on walkabout with his mother and families, living in the traditional way. His mother would hide him in the bush whenever they visited a white homestead because of the Aboriginal Assimilation Program active at that time – a system through which all part aboriginal children were taken from their families and placed in white environments such as Adelaide or Darwin.
At the age of six, Jagamarra was discovered by the authorities and taken to Adelaide where he spent the next eighteen years. He matriculated from Adelaide Boys’ High in 1972 and starred in League Football for North Adelaide until 1975.
In 1978 he returned to Alice Springs and was re-united with his family for the first time since 1960. Five years later he underwent the initiation ceremony he missed as a boy, in which he learnt the secret songs and dances of his tribe, the Lander River Walpiri. Jagamarra’s art evolved from his tribe’s ceremonies. Aboriginal paintings were originally daubed on the body and were not preserved. Since 1971 they have been transferred onto canvas – art that reflects “not just the mythology, but the song and dance”.
Today Jagamarra is considered one of Australia’s most dynamic Aboriginal artists and in 1992 he was appointed Artist-in-Residence at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. His work has been exhibited throughout the world and is held in many prestigious private and corporate collections both in Australia and overseas.
Australian Embassy, New York, USA
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
Berkeley Editions, Australia
Professor Fishe Collection, Germany
The Kelton Collection, Santa Monica, USA
200 Unsung Heroes and Heroines of Australia, Modern Art – Ancient Icon; A Myriad of Dreaming – 20th Centure Aboriginal Art, Aboriginal Artists of the Western Desert (Vivien Johnson).