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Shorty Jangala Robertson


Shorty Jangala Robertson was born in the 1930's at Jila (Chilla Well), a large soakage and claypan north west of Yuendumu. He lived a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle with his parents, older brother and extended Warlpiri family. They travelled vast distances across desert country, passing through Warlukurlangu, south west of Jila and Ngarlikurlangu, north of Yuendumu, visiting Jangalas, his skin brothers.

His childhood memories consist of stories associated with the Conniston Massacre of Aboriginal people and close to Jila, families were shot at Wantaparri.

Shorty Jangala Robertson had virtually no contact with white fellas during his youth but remembers leaving Jila for Mt Theo 'to hide' from being shot. His father died at Mt Theo and then with his mother moved to Mt Doreen Station, and subsequently the new settlement of Yuendumu

. During World War II, the army took people from Yuendumu to the other Warlpiri settlement at Lajamanu. Shorty was taken and separated from his mother. However she came to get him on foot, and together they traveled hundreds of miles back to Chilla Well.

Drought food and medical supplies forced Shorty and his family back to Yuendumu from time to time. His working life was full of adventure and hard work for different enterprises in the Alice Springs/Yuendumu area. He finally settled at Yuendumu in 1967 after the Australian Citizen Referendum.

It is extraordinary in all his travels and jobs over his whole working life, that he escaped the burgeoning and flourishing Central Desert art movement of the 1970's and 1980's. Thus Shorty's paintings are fresh, vigorous and new. His use of colour to paint and interpret his dreamings of Ngapa (Water), Watiyawarnu (Acacia), Yankirri (Emu) and Pamapardu (Flying Ant) is vital, yet upholding the Warlpiri tradition. This fledgling artist well in his 70's is an active member of Warlukurlangu Co-operative. He lives at Yuendumu with his wife and artist Lady Nungarrayi Robertson.

Selected Exhibitions:

2002 Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi Melbourne
2003 Warlukurlangu Artists, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
2003 Kurruwarri Wirijarlu - "Big Story" Hogarth Gallery, Sydney
2003 Solo Exhibition, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
2004 Little Warlu, Big Stories, NT & Outback Centre, Sydney
2004 New Works from Yuendumu, Bellas Gallery, Brisbane
2004 Shorty Robertson - Solo Exhibition, Coo-ee Aboriginal Art, Sydney
2004 "Big Country" Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
2004 "Recent Works from Warlakurlangu", Hogarth Gallery, Sydney.
2004 "All About Art", Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.
2004 "Desert Mob" Alice Springs Cultural Precinct, Araluen Arts Centre
2004 The Alice Prize, Araluen Cultural Precinct, Alice Springs
2005 "WAAA Collection" Flinders Museum Adelaide
2005 Solo Exhibition, Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne
2005 Jukurrpa Wiri, Araluen Galleries, Alice Spring
2005 Solo Exhibition, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
2005 Group Show, Alison Kelly Gallery, Melbourne
2005 Warlukurlangu Group Show, Beaver Gallery, Canberra
2005 Water Dreamings, Walkabout Gallery, Sydney
Desert Mob, Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs
Warlukurlangu Artists of Yuendumu Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2006 Warlpiri Artists of Yuendumu, Japingka Gallery, WA
2006 Summer Evening, Anne Snell Gallery, Sydney
2007 Tiwa Ngurrara - Strangers?, Artkelch, Freiburg, Germany
2007 Warlukurlangu Artists, Hogarth Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2007 Desert Mob, Baguette Gallery, Brisbane in conjunction with Suzanne O'Connell Gallery
2007 Couples, Gadfly Gallery, Perth, Western Australia


Araluen Cultural Precinct, Alice Springs
Artbank, Sydney, NSW
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Flinders University Art Museum, Melbourne
Gordon Darling Foundation, Canberra
Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Private Collections

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