Collection: Michael Nelson Jagamara

Date of Birth : c.1946
Country : Papunya, Western Desert, Northern Territory
Language : Warlpiri & Luritja

Michael Nelson is an ambassador of Aboriginal art and an incredibly important figure in the Australian art world. He had a major impact in the art world when he won the inaugural National Aboriginal Art Award in Darwin in 1984 and has never looked back.

He joined the ranks of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Alexander Calder and Andy Warhol when he was asked by BMW to create an “art car” and he was given the honour of having one of his works made into the beautiful tiled mosaic forecourt to Parliament House in Canberra. His dreamings include Possum, Snake, Two Kangaroos, Flying Ant and Yam Dreamings for the area around Pikilyi. He had his first solo exhibition in 1989 and his paintings can now be found in major collections throughout the world.

Michael Nelson was recognised nationally and internationally in the late 1980s through numerous public art commissions and awards including the 1984 Telstra National Aboriginal Art Award. During the late 1990s, he reinvented his approach to painting with a more expressionistic style. He continues to make the salient point that although his choice of colours, materials and appearance of works are continually being reformatted, his stories have never changed! Michael Nelson’s significant contribution to Aboriginal Art was recognised in 2008, when he was awarded a Honorary Doctorate from the University of New South Wales. His works are held in private, corporate and most public collections in Australia.

While Michael’s earlier work was more traditional dot based painting, his more recent works have had a far more contemporary feel while retaining the ancestral symbolism and stories of his previous style.

The father of six girls and one boy, Michael Nelson Jagamara is a family orientated man. “When I paint I always have my children around me. I talk to them and tell them stories about our country. We often sit around the campfire, telling stories. I want to pass on my culture. I’m proud of my work.”
Michael Nelson Jagamara