Portia Napanangka Michaels was born in 1967 in Alice Springs Hospital, the closest hospital to Yuendumu, a remote Aboriginal community 290 km north-west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia. She was born into a family of artists. She is the daughter of Mary Anne Nampijinpa Michaels, a well-known Warlukurlangu artist. Portia has two sisters and two brothers and lives in Nyirripi, an Aboriginal community 150 km west of Yuendumu. She attended Yuendumu local school before going to Yirara College, an Aboriginal boarding school in Alice Springs. When she finished school she returned to Nyirripi where she has been working for the Age care.
Portia has been painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre in Yuendumu, since 2007. Warlukurlangu Artists provides an outlet for Warlpiri artists to paint their cultural heritage and earn income from their work. This service is extended to Nyirripi artists, on a weekly basis, by delivering canvas and paint to artists and picking up finished artwork in Nyirripi.
“I watched my mother paint and my grandmother paint. They told me all about the dreaming.” Portia paints Lappi Lappi Jukurrpa (Lappi Lappi Dreaming) from her mother’s side and Janganpa Jukurrpa (Brush-tailed possum Dreaming) from her father’s side. These stories have been passed down to her by her father and mother and their parents before them for millennia.
When Portia is not painting she likes to go hunting for goanna.