Topsy Napaltjarri

Australian artist

Topsy Gibson Napaltjarri is an Australian Aboriginal artist.

Topsy Gibson Napaltjarri
Bornc. 1950
Other namesTjayika, Tjanika [1]
Years active1996–present
Organization(s)Papunya Tula
Warlayirti Artists
StyleWestern Desert art
SpouseTommy Tjakamarra
ChildrenYalamay Napurrula (born 1973)
Lynette Napurrula (born 1976)
Parent(s)Waku Tjungurrayi (father)
Papalya Nangala (mother)
RelativesWarlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri
Takariya Napaltjarri
Yalti Napangati
Thomas Tjapangati
Yukultji Napangati
Walala Tjapangati

Topsy was born around 1950, in the Gibson Desert. She was born at Wirrulnga, a rockhole near what is now Kiwirrkurra, in Western Australia. She was the first child of Papalya and Waku. She grew up living in the desert, living a traditional hunter-gatherer way of life on the western side of Lake Mackay. Her family had no contact with the modern world and had never seen White people. When she was about 13, she married a man named Tommy Tjakamarra. She left her family and went with Tommy to go and live at Mount Doreen, northwest of Yuendumu. This was her first encounter with modern, Euro-Australian society. Her family was left behind in the desert and did not come out until 1984.[2]

Topsy and Tommy lived at Papunya for a few years, but they later separated. Topsy remarried, to a man named Tony Tjakamarra, and she moved west with him to Balgo. They moved to Kiwirrkurra in 1984,[1] not long after it was founded. She has two daughters,[2] Yalamay (born 1973) and Lynette (born 1976), and one son.[1]



Topsy began painting in 1996, with her sister Takariya. Her younger brother, Warlimpirrnga, had been painting since 1987 and was already famous as an artist.[1] She was first represented by Warlayirti Artists, the art co-operative at Balgo.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Johnson, Vivien (2008). Lives of the Papunya Tula Artists. Alice Springs, NT: IAD Press. p. 306.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Toohey, Paul (4 May 2004). "The Last Nomads" (PDF). The Bulletin. p. 28–35. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  3. "Full list of artists". Warlayirti Artists. Archived from the original on 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2009-09-10.