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Mary Roberts was born at Haasts Bluff in 1964. She attended school there until she was eleven, when the family moved to Papunya, where her father continued his role as a Lutheran pastor and also worked in the Papunya school, composing many titles for the Literature Production Centre .
Painting goes back two generations in Mary Roberts’ family, but so far she is the only one of her five siblings to take up painting. She joined Papunya Tjupi in 2008, having been taught how to paint on canvas by her father Murphy Roberts Tjupurrula, who was one of the most respected senior lawmen in the Papunya community and also a Lutheran pastor. Murphy worked in the church at Haasts Bluff while Mary was a young girl and she remembers watching her maternal grandfather Limpi Tjapangati, one of the early Papunya Tula painters, working on his canvases. Elements of his distinctive style are discernible in Mary’s work. Mary completed her education at Yirara College in Alice Springs, reaching Year 8. Returning to Papunya she worked for ten years in the Papunya preschool as a teachers aide. Mary’s aunty Lorabelle Puntungunka, her mother’s younger sister, joined Papunya Tjupi Arts at the outset. It was she who told Mary she should paint her grandfather’s stories. Mary said, “She told me to paint before she passed away last year. I was thinking that I want to paint that story. I was thinking of doing painting with story on it. I have only just started painting.”
Mary moved back to Haasts Bluff in 2016 and has been painting at Ikuntji Artists since.
- 2019 AIATSIS Indigenous Art Market 2019-12-06
- Tarnanthi Art Fair 2019, Adelaide 2019-10-18