Kelly is the daughter of acclaimed artist Alice Nampitjinpa Dixon and Lindsay Tjapaltjarri. Her mother sister is Inyuwa Nampitjinpa. Kelly is the granddaughter of Papunya Tula Artists founding member Uta Uta Tjangala (Alice’s step father). Uta Uta was central to the establishment of Papunya Tula Artists in 1972, where he painted continuously into the late 1980’s. He also travelled extensively through the western desert in the 1970’s, settling in Muyin outstation, west of Kintore in the early 1980’s.
Kelly was born in Lambara outstation, West of Papunya, in 1970. She first came to Haasts Bluff with her mother and father when she was four years old. Kelly primarily grew up in Haasts Bluff, though has spent much time travelling. When she was a child she moved between Yeyi, Papunya and Haasts Bluff with her family. In the late 1970’s she was living with her family in Papunya. Due to large migrations into the area, the Papunya community was experiencing increasing problems with fighting and alcohol. The elder men of the community, including Kelly’s grandfather Uta Uta, had a meeting and decided to return to their country in Kintore.
When Kelly was 14, she remembers travelling from Papunya to Yayayi, to Lambarra, Waruwiya, Mt Liebig, Nubo (West of Mt Liebig) and then back to Kintore with her sister, Kathleen Dixon, and school teacher and former guitarist of Warumpi band, Neil Murray. She attended school at Yirara College in Alice Springs before returning to Kintore, and later Haasts Bluff, where she has lived ever since. In her youth she also travelled to Sydney with her mother, Alice, and her niece from Kintore High School, to teach traditional women’s dancing to students there. She remembers teaching 18 year old students to dance and to paint their bodies. When she was 20 years old, she travelled to Brisbane for the school holidays with her teacher, Jeff Malcombe. She remembers going shopping there and taking the train to Newmarket; the first time she had taken a train.
At thirty years old, Kelly began working at the Haasts Bluff childcare centre. In 2012, she started painting for Ikuntji Artists, where she continues to work and paint today. Kelly paints her maternal grandmother’s Tjukurrpa (dreaming) called Minjinperri, located East of Kintore. Kelly now works full time as an arts worker at Ikuntji Artists. She currently focuses her time on making jewellery from the native ininti seeds and gum nuts. She often spends hours delicately hand painting seeds to become necklaces, bracelets and earrings. In 2018, Kelly successfully completed a Certificate I in Visual Arts through the Batchelor Institute in Alice Springs, where she learned to design and print fabric, both digitally and by hand, and also worked with Ikuntji Artists at Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and Desert Mob. In the same year, Kelly’s designs were also featured in Parrtjima festival, being turned into large lanterns in their ‘Forest Space’ installation. Kelly continues to work at Ikuntji Artists as an arts worker where she assists elderly artists and makes her ininti jewellery.
- Ikuntji Textiles exhibition, Central Craft in Alice Springs Ended
- Australian Council of the Arts, Artists trip to Adelaide Ended
- Meet the artist and official opening – Ikuntji Textiles Exhibition Ended
- Jewellery workshop at DAAF Ended
- Bush Bling – Jewellery exhibition Ended
- Photography workshops with Tobias Titz Ended
- Parrtjima – Festival in Light 2018, Alice Springs Ended
- Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Darwin Ended
- Central Australian Aboriginal Textiles, Alice Springs Ended
- Beanie Festival, Alice Springs Ended
- Photography workshops with Tobias Titz Ended
- Lantern making workshop at Ikuntji Artists Ended
- Printing Workshop at Batchelor Institute, Alice Springs Ended
- From Country to Couture at DAAF, Darwin NT Ended
- Spring/Summer Fashion Parade, Alice Springs Ended
- Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair 2016 Ended
- Bush Trip Ended
- Desert Mob Market Place 2015 Ended
- 'Story Necklace' exhibition, South Australian Museum 2020-12-17
- Ikuntji Textiles, Central Craft, Alice Springs NT 2019-08-24
- Bush Bling Jewellery exhibition, Aboriginal Bush Traders, Darwin, NT. 2019-03-14
- PARRTJIMA – A Festival in Light 2018, Alice Springs, NT. 2018-09-27
- Desert Mob 2018, Araluen, Alice Springs NT 2018-09-05
- Desert Mob 2017, Araluen, Alice Springs NT 2017-09-07
- Blak Markets at Barrangaroo, Sydney NSW 2017-07-01
- Ngurra Kutju - Tjukurrpa Tjuta, One Country - Many Stories, Exhibition at Colin Biggers & Paisley, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane 2017-06-19
- 10th Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Darwin Convention Centre, Darwin NT 2016-08-04
- Ikuntji Artists – Paintings from Haasts Bluff, Northern Territory, Jaktman Australian Contemporary Art Gallery 2016-02-24