“All my paintings go to tourists because I just want to share my paintings with everybody, across cultures and to share my stories… to know the meaning of my stories. I love to sell my paintings so that they know who I am and to learn my culture handed down to me by my grandfathers.”
Elizabeth Napaljarri Katakarinja was born in 1963 in Hermannsburg, an Aboriginal community 131 km southwest of Alice Springs in the NT of Australia. She is the daughter of Ambrose Katakarinja and Yvonne Williams. She comes from an extended family of artists including her Great Grandfather Albert Namatjia, known for his western-style watercolours of his land and her Great Grandfather, Munmaringya, one of the Browns from Yuendumu. Her brother Johanne Katakarinja is also a noted artist painting in the style of the Hermannsburg School. Elizabeth is multilingual, speaking Warlpiri, Waramunga, Western Arrente, and English. Elizabeth went to Hermannsburg Primary School, then Yirara College, an Aboriginal boarding college in Alice Springs. When she finished schooling she returned home to Hermannsburg and worked at the Childcare Centre in the morning and the Women’s Centre in the afternoon making art and crafts, including screen printing on fabric, particularly silk. Elizabeth is very proactive and was behind the submission responsible for getting a Multipurpose Centre for the community. In 1995, while still working part time at the Childcare Centre she decided to enrol in Early Childhood studies at Batchelor College, Darwin. Graduating in 1997. It was here she met Simon Japangardi Fisher, who was also studying at Batchelor. In 1999 Elizabeth married Simon and moved to Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community 290km north-west of Alice Springs. When she first arrived at Yuendumu she worked for the Social Club, the Old People’s Program and the Mount Theo Program as assistant Administrator. She now works as an Editor for PAW Media and Communications. Elizabeth has three children from previous relationships and one son with Simon.
Elizabeth has been painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre located in Yuendumu, since 2007. She is connected to Yuendumu through one of her Great Grandfathers. She paints on her days off and after work. She paints each of her Grandfather’s Jukurrpa, depicting a wide range of places. She particularly likes to paint Jajutuma Jukurrpa (Caterpillar Dreaming) , as it is about the MacDonald Ranges represented by two caterpillars, one coming from the south, her mother’s side and one from the west her Grandfather’s side.