Australian Aboriginal Artist (and Advocate) : Marilyn Armstrong

“Marilyn Armstrong was born at Jay Creek near Hermannsberg. She was born into a famous artistic family and influenced by outstanding artists Albert Namatjira and Clifford Possum. Marilyn is not only an artist in her own right but also a tireless advocate for her people.

She has attained national and international notoriety for her work and has also aided her community as counsellor at the women’s and children’s centre, and the Aboriginal Congress plus as a health worker.

Her art reflects the images of her “dreamings” given to her by her family and attributes her understanding of colour to Albert and her motivation to Clifford.

This is a quote from an ABC radio interview in 2004:”I do it differently because as an artist, when men give me the dreaming I change it and do it the woman’s way”.”


Further information about Marilyn Armstrong below, source

“Marilyn was born in the Jay Creek community, but grew up in Hermannsburg where her father worked for the Finke River Mission as an engineer. It was here that Marilyn remembers watching Albert Namatjira and Clifford Possum painting and being inspired by them and being given permission to paint the dream time stories.

As a teenager she was a vocalists with the Aranda band in Hermannsburg. She started to paint back in 1988 as a stress reliever (for the women’s centre). Clifford encouraged Marilyn to develop her skills with her dot painting, helping her to understand and paint the Dream time stories of the area they are from. Marilyn has many skills and worked as a counselor at the women’s and children’s centre also with Aboriginal congress as a health worker.

Marilyn moved back to Jay Creek in 1974. Although she spends a lot of time with her young family, she still likes to do beadwork, paint and do leather work which she learnt from her father.

Marilyn has been on the board of Ngurratjuta Aboriginal Corporation for many years and it was at her suggestion that the Art centre was formed to create a place for artists to come and paint when they are in town and pass on their knowledge to the younger generations.

2003 Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs, NT
2004 Advocate Central Australian Art Award, Alice Springs, NT
2004 Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs, NT
2005 Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs, NT
2007 Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs, NT
2008 Desert Mob Exhibition, Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT”





What drew me to Marilyn’s art is her use of bright, vibrant colour, being an aficionado of colour myself. She is not the most prolific artist, and these days she is more active in the administration of the Ngurratjuta Many Hands Art Centre, being a prominent board member there.

Many Hands Art Centre is proudly Aboriginal owned and operated and is situated in the township of Alice Springs. The Art Centre has been established to provide a place for Artists to come together to paint, share and learn new techniques and ideas. Marilyn Armstrong who is one of our prominent artists and also a Ngurratjuta board member says of the art centre:

“It’s a place where we can sit and talk together about the dream time and learn from each other”.

Ngurratjuta supports a range of well established contemporary watercolour and acrylic artists who frequently exhibit interstate as well as many new and emerging artists who are developing their skills. We produce four specific styles of art including, watercolours, traditional dot style, naïve style and the more contemporary style paintings. The artworks tell many different stories and are completed in a variety of techniques including, intricate and subtle brush strokes, distinct and detailed dot work as well as broad and often bold freestyle use of acrylic paints and colours.

We currently support over 300 artists with a special focus on encouraging the “Hermannsburg School’ style watercolour artists, who continue to paint in the tradition of their grandfather, Albert Namatjira, arguably one of Australia’s most famous artists of the 20th century. Albert Namatjira taught his children to follow in his unique style, who have since passed this knowledge on to their children, which has resonated in a legacy of watercolour artists in the Central Desert region. By continuing his legacy, these artists sustain an important piece of living history.

Ngurratjuta is proud of its ethical work practices, and aims to return the greatest possible percentage of the sale to the artist. The artists are welcome to paint at the art centre from Monday to Thursdays and on these days there are between five and twenty town-based artists painting on site.

We welcome visitors to browse through the completed paintings which are for sale.


Here is Marilyn Armstrong in 2012, speaking on behalf of Ngurratjuta Many Hands Art Centre:


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