Cynthia Multa

Cynthia Multa

Language:LuritjaDate of birth:1960-10-21Community:Haasts Bluff

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Cynthia was born at Papunya in the building that is the old police station in 1960. Her father was Timmy Jugadai Tjungarrayi and her mother Narputta Nangala Jugadai, both internationally acclaimed artists.

Timmy, a Warlpiri man, was born at Winparku, West of Haasts Bluff. His family moved to Yuendumu where he grew up. His country is Yaripila (Newhaven), west of Nyirripi. Timmy’s father worked as a stockman and it was from him that he learnt the same trade. Timmy brought all of the cattle and horses to 5 Mile Bore, just east of Papunya. He then brought them to Haasts Bluff where he first saw all the Arrernte people, who were there for the rations. At that time Haasts Bluff community was a hub, with language groups coming from every direction. Pitantjatjarra from the south, Lurita, Pintupi and Warlpiri. Timmy stayed in Haasts Bluff and worked with an old white man and his wife. Timmy was first married to Bessie Nangala from Hermannsburg and they had their family in Haasts Bluff. Then Timmy met Narputta. He was married to both women and they lived together with their children.

Narputta was born at Kaarkurutinytja (Lake Macdonald) in Western Australia. Together with their family they travelled east to Haasts Bluff community where the ration stations were set up. They travelled 400 kilometres on foot, stopping at different places along the way to rest. They stopped at Women Rockhole, east of Kintore. Then they stopped at Newman, and to Puritjarra (Close to Muruntji). It was at Puritjarra that their father passed away. They then travelled to Puntjarra, there they were drawing the goanna on the Kulpi.  When Narputta was a young teenager, the family lived at Muruntji.  Narputta’s younger brother, Riley Major was born there. The family also lost a brother there. Coming into Haasts Bluff from the West they stopped for a night at Brown’s Bore Outstation before arriving in Haasts Bluff. Narputta’s sister was Tatali Nangala. She was born in the mountains along the eastern side of Kintore Community. In Haasts Bluff, she married Charlie Tarawa Tjunggarayi, together they had seven children. Their daughter, Eileen Anyama Napaltjarri is an established painter, and has been painting for Ikuntji Artists and Papunya Tula for many years.

Narputta lost her mother in Haasts Bluff, she is resting in the local cemetery across the river. Narputta then lived in Hermansburg with the Inkamala Family before moving to Haasts Bluff with her other Grandfather. Narputta and Riley stayed in Haasts Bluff and lived with the family of Eunice Napanangka Jack and Anmanari Nolan. In those days there were only four houses in Haasts Bluff and their whole family lived in a one bedroom house. There was only the old clinic, the station house, the upstairs house (Double story house), the Rec Hall and the school which was held in a silver caravan. Narputta married Timmy when she was 19 years old.

Narputta and Timmy had six children together. Their first daughter Molly was born in Lamdsol cattle station, west of the Haasts Bluff airstrip in 1954. Daisie was born the following year in Haasts Bluff. Jillian was born in Papunya, followed by Cynthia in 1960. Their first son, Peter, was born in Alice springs hospital. Followed by Jonny at 5 Mile near Papunya. Cynthia grew up with Jonny and Peter at 5 mile while Molly and Daisy went to school in Papunya. They then moved to Haasts Bluff where Cynthia went to school.  In Haasts Bluff Surparkra was born in 1967, followed by their youngest daughter Sonia in 1969 who was born at the church in Papunya.

Cynthia remembers going to school in the silver caravan, her auntie (father’s side) Beverly Anderson, was her teacher. It was with the school that Cynthia travelled to Melbourne with teacher Phillip Toyne and David and Caroline Cann for a school holiday program. She also went to Sydney.

When Cynthia was 19 she married Luritja man John Multa. John is the brother of Joe Multa (father of Douglas, Alison, Patricia, Benisa, Lisa an Rephina) and Kelly Multa (Agnes’ father). They come from Arrernte country and are part of the Impu/Kantawarra/Miniri families. Cynthia and John lived together in Haasts Bluff and had four children, Christine, Dorothy, Timmy and Lorny. Between them they have 12 grandchildren.  

Cynthia started painting in 1987 when some of the men, Gideon Tjupurrula Jack (Eunice’s husband) and one of the first painters for the Papunya Tula art movement, and Trevor Raggett’s father were painting. She recalls,

“Me and my husband came here, we saw them painting. Thinking of my father’s story [he said], You can only paint your grandmother’s story, Karirnyara. Those little dots, rockholes, onion Dreaming, that little hole where the snake covered it up, that rainbow snake – he covered all the rock holes and made the sandhills”.

She remembers making t-shirts, curtains and pillows with Marina Strocchi in the early 1990s when Ikuntji Artists first opened.


  • Colin Biggers & Paisley Foundation, Brisbane

Past Exhibitions

  • 'Story Necklace' exhibition, South Australian Museum 2020-12-17
  • 2019 AIATSIS Indigenous Art Market 2019-12-06
  • Tarnanthi Art Fair 2019, Adelaide 2019-10-18
  • AIATSIS Aboriginal Art Fair 2018, Canberra 2018-12-07
  • TARNANTHI Art Fair 2018 2018-10-16
  • Desert Mob Market Place 2018 2018-09-06
  • Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair 2018 2018-08-09
  • Central Australian Aboriginal Textiles, Alice Springs NT 2018-06-29
  • Desert Mob Marketplace 2017 2017-12-07
  • From Country to Couture Indigenous Fashion Parade Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Darwin NT 2017-08-08
  • Ngurra Kutju - Tjukurrpa Tjuta, One Country - Many Stories, Exhibition at Colin Biggers & Paisley, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane 2017-06-19
  • One Country - Many Stories, Colin Biggers & Paisley Foundation, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane 2017-06-19
  • Spring / Summer Fashion Parade, Alice Springs NT 2016-11-10
  • Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs NT 2016-09-07
  • 10th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Darwin Convention Centre, Darwin NT 2016-08-04
  • Alice Springs Beanie Festival 2016 - Spirit of the Land 2016-06-23
  • Ikuntji Artists – Paintings from Haasts Bluff, Northern Territory, Jaktman Australian Contemporary Art Gallery ACT 2016-02-24
  • 9th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Darwin, NT 2015-08-06
  • Around the Campfire - Fundraiser Concert, Alice Springs NT 2014-10-16
  • 8th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Darwin Convention Centre, Darwin NT 2014-08-06
  • Ikuntji Artists Festival 21 Years 2014-06-06
  • A Love of Country - the Indigenous Perspective, A Seymour College Art Exhibition 2013 2013-08-15
  • Desert Mob exhibition, Alice Springs NT 2010-12-31
  • Korowa College Melbourne VIC 2010-12-31
  • Ikuntji Artists, Beckworth Gallery, Ballarat, VIC 2008-12-31
  • Ikuntji Show, QDos Gallery, Lorne VIC 2007-12-31
  • Group Show, Australia Dreaming Art, Melbourne VIC 2006-12-31