Betsy Napangardi Lewis’s strong character and confronting nature could sometimes be overwhelming. However behind that tough exterior was a caring, happy and smiley person. Betsy was a traditional Warlpiri woman and was born in the bush in the 1940’s at Kunajarryi, west of Yuendumu but when she was quite young she moved with her family to Mount Doreen Station.
She was brought up by Paddy Japanangka Lewis and attended school in Yuendumu where she lived until her passing in February 2008. She painted with Warlukurlangu Arists since 1999.
She painted every day at the art centre where she carefully worked on her design, always willing to experiment with new techniques and styles. Betsy’s main dreaming was Mina Mina, country located far west of Yuendumu on the border of the Tanami and Gibson Deserts. She shared this country and dreaming with Judy Napangardi Watson. Mina Mina is a very important women’s dreaming site and has a long story in which a large group of ancestral women of all ages travel through the country dancing and performing ceremonies and creating the country as they go.
Betsy had developed her own very characteristic style while painting this dreaming. She had a unique control, and use of colour and design with thick and narrow super-imposed lines of different colours. She was able to create and express movement through her designs and use of bright colours. More than just a depiction of the story, the artist used the Jukurrpa as a medium to experiment and evolve technically. She was able to create the illusion of movement with the use of clean lines of different colours. In many of her paintings she concentrated on a very small part of the dreaming story as her main focus was the development of her very own distinctive painting style.