Debra Yungut is the eldest daughter of well-respected Pintupi artists Walangkura Napanangka and Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula. Debra was born at Papunya in 1964 and as a child witnessed the creation of the desert painting movement at Papunya. Debra’s father, Johnny, was central to the inception of the desert painting movement, as he was a respected cultural figure within the Pintupi community that had an array of dreamtime stories that he drew inspiration from in his work.
Debra began painting in 1984 along with her sisters, under the tutelage of their mother, who taught them their Dreaming stories. During this time, lots of women from different communities including those from Kintore and Haasts Bluff, came together to start making their own paintings. Prior to this, women only assisted the men of their community to make works and had not yet created paintings based on their own stories from the women’s Dreaming tradition.
Debra utilizes traditional Indigenous designs in her work including the dotted infilling technique, which is one of the main characteristics of the Pintupi style. She uses traditional iconography in her work, motifs that resemble those found in her mothers, but uses bold colours, which gives Debra’s work an individualized style. Debra likes to use warm reds and oranges, colours which are characteristic of her mom’s preferred palette, but incorporates other vibrant and sometimes unexpected colours in her work as well.
The subject of Debra’s artwork is her mother’s Country and the Dreamings associated with certain sites, such as Tjintjintjin, north west of Kintore.