Debbie Brown Napaltjarri was born in Nyirripi, a remote Aboriginal community 400km north-west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. She grew up in this community and went to school there as well as attending boarding school at Yirrara College for several years. When she returned back to Nyirripi, she began work at a store as well as helping to care for old people. In 2010 Debbie moved to Yuendumu, 160km east or Nyirripi, with her husband and son, to be closer to her husband’s family. It was here she worked for the Women’s Centre, cooking lunches for the kids at school.
Debbie was taught to paint by her grandmother, Margaret Napangardi Brown, who was part of the Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation – an Aboriginal owned and governed art centre, located in Yuendumu. Debbie herself has been painting for this centre since 2006, drawing inspiration from her grandmother and grandfather’s dreamtime stories.
Debbie often creates paintings based on her father’s Jukurrpa – a term referring to the creation period, when their ancestors roamed the world creating flaura, fauna and features of the landscape and how these relationships came to be and what they mean. These stories have been passed down through the maternal line and their parents before them.