Debra Young Nakamarra is the eldest daughter of esteemed Pintupi artists Walangkura Napanangka and Johnny Yungut Tjupurrula. Debra was born at Papunya in 1964 and later moved to Kintore community. In 1971 the desert painting movement began at Papunya and some time after that both her parents began to paint the traditional stories of their country. Debra Young Nakamarra began her own painting career in 1984, at the time when the women artists from the communities at Kintore and Haasts Bluff gathered to start making their own paintings. Prior to that time the women artists had assisted the men folk of their families with their painting, but had not created their own stories from the women’s Dreaming tradition.
Debra Young Nakamarra learned the skills of painting from her mother Walangkura Napanangka and the ceremonial stories of the Women’s Dreaming sites associated with the Dreaming Ancestor Kutungka Napanangka. In the Tingari narratives that make the Creation law for Pintupi people, Kutungka Napanangka made a journey through the artist’s country on her way to the east. Locations where the Ancestor stopped became ceremonial sites for the people, and the women continue to sing the songs and perform the ceremonial dances that celebrate this Creation journey.
When Debra Young Nakamarra began painting, the stories associated with these Women’s ceremonies provided the subject for her work. She uses the iconography that she learned from her mother’s paintings, which tie in strongly with the broader painting tradition of the Western Desert. Debra Young Nakamarra has established her own body of work around this theme and developed colour groupings that are typical of her work.