Katjarra Butler

Katjarra Butler

Written by Elizabeth Marrkilyi (Katjarra's neice):

Katjarra was born quite close to Kulkurta and Purrungu at a place called Kuun. Kuun is the name of the waterhole there. Kuun is also the name of the yellow ochre. There is also a place very close to Kuun that Katjarra refers to as her home and is one of her Tjukurrpa or Dreaming which she paints. It is called Kuurmankutja. This place is home to the two Kuniya (python) dreaming.

The other dreaming that she paints is Marrapirnti.

Her father was Lilyiwara Tjungurrayi and her mother was Mangkatji Nangala. Katjarra had an older sister Nguya Napaltjarri and younger brother Peter Tjapaltjarri, now both deceased. Katjarra lived with her parents, sibblings and immediate family in the bush as a child, teenager and young married woman. She lived with her family and later with her husband in the country to the west of Tjukurla in the Kulkurta area which is south of the Baron Range in Western Australia. Katjarra lived a traditional nomadic lifestyle only, travelling families within their family's country and lived off the animals that they hunted and bush food that they collected. They collected and drank water from the rockholes, soakages, springs and claypans (waterholes). All the travelling was done on foot.

Katjarra Butler Napaltjarri was born on the 29th of June, 1946, and grew up in the Pintupi community of Kiwirrkura by the NT/WA border. She is now based at Tjukurla, where she paints through Tjarlirli Arts. She was the second wife of Papunya School painter Anatjari Tjakamarra, whose first wife was her older sister Nguya. Her father was Iilyiwara Tjungurrayi and her mother was Mangkatji Nangala.

Amongst the themes she paints are the Marapinta Rockhole, tali (sandhills), puli (rocks) & kungka: women painting up & preparing for ceremony. Like many Pintupi women artists, her works may include kampurrarpa or bush raisin which is collected. Her work has a rawness to it evoking the true feel of a desert sand mosaic, and her style has been noted as being that of the senior artists in this area.


2021 – Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, Finalist
2021 – Wynne Prize (Art Gallery of NSW), Finalist
2018 – Alice Art Prize, Finalist
2018 – Port Headland Art Prize, Finalist
2018 – Albany Art Prize, Finalist
2017 – Port Hedland Art Award, Finalist
2016 – Wyndham Art Prize, Winner