Born in the Pintupi country North-West of Walungurru, Wentja came first to Haasts Bluff then moved to Papunya. It was here that her father, Shorty Lungkata Tjungurrayi was born. Shorty was one of the original founders of the Western Desert Art movement.
With her sister, Tjunkiya Napaltjarri, she took part in the Minyma Tjukurrpa Project (Women’s Dreaming Project) from the Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff) and Walungurru (Kintore) Art Centres; and her art was included in the first exhibition of paintings produced at that time.
Her son Bundy Rowe Tjupurrula is also a painter.
Together father and daughter hunted bandicoot, goanna and echidna and dug for Macu (witcherty grubs). These animals now form part of Wentja’s Tjukurrpa (Dreaming) handed down by her father. Water Dreaming and Blue Tongue Lizard Dreaming also form part of her Dreaming.
Wentja’s early system of connecting concentric circles and dotted bands have now been replaced by mesmerising fields of tonal colours.
Her paintings are less geometric, and display a key motif- in most cases a large roundel which represents an important rockhole where her family regularly camped.
Surrounding the rockhole is a charged energy field of intricate dots- the soft dotting technique being characteristic of many Mt Liebig artists. Whilst she works, Wentja sings about the rockhole and the songs and the music are incorporated into her paintings.
Wentja is a very talented artist with an accomplished and distinctive style. Her works have been highly sought after for the past decade- being included in such major collections as the Kerry Stokes and Thomas Vroom Collections, the National Aboriginal Art and Cultural Institute in Adelaide, and many State Gallery and University collections.
Wentja’s work has been included in leading Australian and International exhibitions, including Masterpieces from the Western Desert, held in London in 2008. Wentja has been a finalist in the telstra National and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award from 2001-2004 and again from 2006-2008.
2000-2003 Chapel on Chapel, Melbourne
2004 Selected in the Alice Prize
2004 Cooee Gallery, Sydney
2005 Cooee gallery, Sydney
2005 Divas of the Desert, Gallery Gondwana
2006 NATSIAA Telstra Awards, Darwin
2005 Watiyawanu Artists, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
2006 Bond Aboriginal Art, Adelaide SA
2006 Knud Grothe Gallery, Denmark Copenhagen
2006 Towards Black and White, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
2006 Australian Aboriginal Art 2006/2007, John Gordon Gallery, NSW
2006 This is our Story – 8 selected works, Colliding Worlds Exhibition, Tandanya
2006 Luminaries of the Desert, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
2007 Watiyawanu Artists of Amunturrngu, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
2008 Watiyawanu Artists, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
2014 Dot Code: Desert Artists, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle WA
Thomas Vroom Collection
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Tandanya National Aboriginal Art & Cultural Institute
Flinders University Museum
Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane