• Artist: Ngarralja Tommy May
  • Art Centre: Mangkaja Arts
  • Region: Kimberley

Artwork Story

Ngarralja is a Wangkajunga/Walmajarri man. He was born at Yarrnkurnja in the Great Sandy Desert. He dances and sings Kurtal, a ceremony relating to the main jila [living waterhole] in his country. He is also a painter and printmaker.


I was big when I left my country. I was already hunting by myself. I was with my young brother and my mother. My father had passed away by this time. I know these stories and these places in my country. I paint these now.


We are not allowed to paint that story for other people’s country. We will get killed or into trouble if we do this. We put that easy story, not a really hard story like law business. We can’t paint that either.


I first saw paintings in caves. I learned a lot from people, mostly my father and grandfather. I was living all around in my country, camping all around. When I paint I think about this.


Ngarralja is fluent in Wangkajunga, Walmajarri and English and writes Walmajarri. He is a founding member of the Karrayili Adult Education centre where he learnt to read and write his own language and English.


© Mangkaja Arts

He is an important person for arts and culture business here in Fitzroy Crossing. He dances and sings Kurtal , a ceremony relating to a main jila (living waterhole) in his country. He is also a painter and printmaker.


He lives with his wife and nine children at Mindi Rardi Community, Fitzroy Crossing.