Cecily Napanangka Marshall was born in 1975 in Alice Springs Hospital, the closest hospital to Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community located 290 km north-west of Alice Springs Hospital. Her parents were living in Yuendumu at the time but her mother passed away when she was young and her father moved to Mt Allan. Cecily was brought up by her Grandmother who has since died. She began her schooling in Alice Springs but attended the local school in Nyirripi when she moved in with her Grandmother. Cecily is a single mum with one daughter who attends Nyirripi Primary School. She has sisters and brothers who were also raised by her Grandmother.
Cecily began painting with Walukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre located in Yuendumu, in 2008. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that Cecily began to paint full-time. She paints her Grandmother’s and Grandfather’s Jukurrpa, stories that have been passed down the generations for millennia and relate directly to the land, its features and the plants and animals that inhabit it. Cecily particularly likes painting Karnta Jukurrpa (Women’s Dreaming) from her Grandmother’s side and Watiya-warnu Jukurrpa (Bush Seed Dreaming) from her Grandfather’s side.
Cecily likes to paint with her Grandmother’s sister, Phyllis Napurrurla Williams and her sister Valerie Napurrurla Morris. “I like the stories. I watch as they paint and tell me about the possum dreaming.”
When Cecily is not painting she use to play sport, particularly basketball. These days she likes to go hunting for Yurrampi (Honey ants) and Ngarlkirdi (witchetty grubs).