Michael Nelson Tjakamarra

DOB: c1949 – 2020
BORN: Pikilyi, Vaughan Springs, NT

Michael Nelson Tjakamarra Aboriginal Artist

Michael Nelson Tjakamarra was born at Pikilyi (Vaughan Springs west of Yuendemu), in Central Australia.  He is a Walpiri and Luritja speaker and is a father of six girls and one boy, and has a wife, Marjorie.  Michael’s father was Walpiri and an important “Medicine Man” in the Yuendumu community.  When he was a boy, Michael was taught sand painting, body paintings and shield paintings by his grandfather.  He grew up “without clothes” and remembers hiding fearfully in the bush when he first saw white men.  After undergoing his first initiation rites at 13 years of age, he left school and worked as a buffalo shooter, truck driver and cattle drover, and was in the army.  After he moved to Papunya, he worked in the government store and later for the council.  He became well educated and a qualified JP who sat on the magistrate’s bench in court hearings at Papunya.


  • National Gallery of Australia,
  • Art Gallery of NSW
  • Art Gallery of South Australia
  • Art Gallery of Western Australia,
  • Queensland Art Gallery,
  • Northern Territory Art Gallery,
  • Broken Hill Art Gallery,
  • National Museum of Australia,
  • Powerhouse Museum,
  • Flinders University Art Museum,
  • The Holmes a Court Collection,
  • Artbank,
  • Sydney Opera House, and in
  • BMW Art Car Project, USA
  • The Kelton Foundation USA


1984 Telstra National Aboriginal Art Award

Selected Solo Exhibitions

Selected Group Exhibitions

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