Debbie Napaltjarri Brown was born in Nyirripi, a remote Aboriginal community 400 km north-west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia. She grew up in Nyirripi, and did most of her schooling there, although she spent several years boarding at Yirrara College in Alice Springs. When she returned to Nyirripi she worked at the store as well as helping to care for old people. In 2010 Debbie moved to Yuendumu, 160 km east of Nyirripi, with her husband and son Jarvis to be closer to her husband’s family. She works for the Women’s Centre, cooking lunches for the kids at school. Debbie has been painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre located in Yuendumu, since 2006.
Her Grandmother, Margaret Napangardi Brown, also an artist with the art centre, taught her to paint. Her Grandfather is the renowned Pintupi artist Pegleg Tjampitjinpa who was born c.1920 and grew up in the vicinity of Wilkinkarra, living a traditional life. Debbie would watch her grandmother and grandfather paint and listen to her Grandmother’s Jukurrpa or Dreaming stories.
In her paintings, Debbie depicts the Tali (Sand Hills) of the country around Nyirripi and Yuendumu. These works are mesmerising in
their execution and evoke a feeling of being in the desert of Central Australia. These sandhills are an important part of life in the harsh Central Australian desert regions. There are some are areas of sandhills which are full of life, while other areas are devoid of life and it is important for the people who inhabit this land to know
where they need to go in order to find food, water and medicines.