Dorothy Napangardi Robinson was born in the bush as a Pintupi woman but brought up as a Warlpiri woman. Her Warlpiri language group is from Pikilyi near Mina Mina towards Lake Mackay in the Tanami Desert – one of the remotest areas of the Northern Territory. It is west of Yuendumu and 400km north west of Alice Springs. The Pikilyi site is considered sacred to its people. The land is contained within the boundaries of a pastoral lease. Her family and the Warlpiri people would often visit the site to maintain their dreaming and to pass their knowledge on to the younger generation.
Dorothy painted in a traditional manner but she was not afraid to experiment and would go to the extreme to develop her art. She learnt about her country and the dreamtime through her mother singing, dancing and telling stories. Dorothy’s children learnt from her listening to the stories and the songs she sings.
Dorothy won the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery’s Award for the best artwork in Western Media at the Telstra National Aboriginal Art Awards in 1991. This artwork is now part of their permanent collection. In 1998 she won the Northern Territory Art Award and she was “Highly Commended” for the 16th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award in 1999.
In December 2002 a major survey of Dorothy’s paintings dating from the early 1990‘s to the present was exhibited by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney in the exhibition “Dancing Up Country – The art of Dorothy Napangardi”.