Artist Spotlight: Bessie Nakamarra Sims

Curious about the featured painting on NMWA’s Facebook? We’ve got the scoop on artist right here!

Aboriginial artist Bessie Nakamarra Sims was born in 1932 in Yuendumu, Northern Territory, Australia. She began painting in the mid-1980s and has since created many “Dreaming” paintings, expressions on canvas of Aboriginal cosmology. “Dreaming” includes narratives of the Aboriginal people’s ancestors, enacted in rituals whose meaning remains a secret to outsiders. Nature and animals feature heavily in Dreaming paintings; the work featured on our Facebook page, Janganpa Jukurrpa (Possum Dreaming), 2006, represents the squiggling lines in sand left by the tails of possums as they search for food.

Sims has exhibited nationally and internationally in many Aboriginal group shows, and is married to fellow Aboriginal artist Paddy Japaljarri Sims, with whom she collaborates on larger works. They have seven children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She currently lives and works in South Camp, Yuendumu.

“I like painting cause it’s my Dreaming…From my father and grandfather’s side. I like to teach kids my Dreaming. I want everyone to know my Dreaming from all over the world. I know and they can know…”

Come see Possum Dreaming and many other beautiful works in Lands of Enchantment: Australian Aboriginal Painting from October 9 to January 10, 2010. Pictures online do little to illustrate their vivacity!

About the Author: Carolanne Bonanno is NMWA’s communications and publishing intern.