Mabel Juli


Born: 31/12/1932
Birth Place: Barlinyin - Springvale Station
Language: Gija, Kimberley Kriol
Skin: Nyawurru
Ngarrangarni / Totem: Emu, echidna
Region: The Kimberley



Mabel Juli is one of the most dedicated and iconic of all Warmun artists. Her seniority and status as one of Australia’s most revered painters has emerged from a consistent and growing body of work characterized by bold yet simple compositions that are informed by nuanced and detailed stories passed onto Mabel from her family. 

Mabel Juli was born at Five Mile, near Moola Boola Station (south of Warmun), and was taken as a baby to Springvale Station, her mother's country. Mabel's' bush name' is Wiringgoon. 

She is a strong Law and Culture woman and an important ceremonial singer and dancer. Juli started painting in the 1980s, at the same time as well-known Warmun artists Queenie McKenzie and Madigan Thomas. The women used to watch Rover Thomas paint and one day he said to them, "You try yourself, you might make good painting yourself". Juli says, "I started thinking about my country, I give it a try". Juli is a dedicated, innovative artist who continues to work in natural earth pigments on canvas. She primarily paints the Ngarranggarni (Dreaming) stories of her country Darrajayin, which is covered largely by Springvale Station. 

Mabel started work on the station as a little girl, and as a young woman moved to Bedford Downs Station and Bow River Station to work. Juli's mother is Mary Peters. Juli is one of seven children-six boys and one girl, Mabel. Well known artist Rusty Peters is Mabel Juli's brother. He also works at Warmun Art Center. 

Mabel also left Springvale Station to be with her promised husband. Together they moved to different cattle stations in the Kimberley, including Bow River and Bedford Downs. Mabel and her husband had six children. Juli's husband passed away in 1982; Mabel was 42.


2004: "I started painting when the old girl [Queenie McKenzie] was here-she was the one who taught me to paint. She told me, 'You try that painting’, and I started to paint. I was doing that Garnkiny [Moon Dreaming]; that’s the painting I started with-because my mother and father told me that Ngarranggarni [Dreamtime] story. I was reminded of all those stories from my mum and dad-like Glingennayn Hill and the Old Woman Singing Out for Her Dog. Those stories come from my country [Springvale-south of Warmun]. They used to take me out bush when I was a little girl-good size-and they told me all about those Dreamtime stories. And I always remember those stories. I got ‘em in my brain."

2007: "I’m feeling pretty good. I like going to exhibitions, going to Sydney, feels good. I’m always busy. I finish the work, the painting, and go home. Go to [Warmun Community] council meetings, go to court [as an elder]. I got to make money to get tucker for my grandchildren. I still think about Aunty [Queenie McKenzie, who taught her to paint] when I do paintings. She tell me about stories."


Darrajayin (Springvale Station) country
Events post-white settlement
Garnkiny Ngarranggarni (Moon Dreaming)
Jowigin (Billimack)
Moola Boola
Traditional Ngarranggarni (Dreaming) stories such as Marranyji & Jiyirriny
Yarangga, Chinaman's Garden


1999 'Ngalangangpum Jarrakpu Purrurn: Mother and Child', Margaret Stewart, Magabala Books, Broome, WA 2001 'From Digging Sticks to Writing Sticks: Stories of Kija Women', Veronica Ryan, Lamb Print, Perth, WA 2010 ‘No-Name Station’, Gertrude Gallery, Warmun Art Center, Iberia Gallery Beijing
2011 'Digging for Ochre with Mabel Juli' ABC Open on-line project
2011 'I am an artist, I come from the Bush' ABC Open on-line project


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
Art Gallery of South Australia, SA
Berndt Museum of Anthropology, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA
Broadmeadows Health Service Collection, Melbourne, VIC
Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki
Cosmology Gallery, Gravity Discovery Center, Perth, WA
Edith Cowan University Art Collection, Perth, WA
FTB Group Collection
Harland Collection, NSW
Harvey Wagner Collection, USA
Kaplan Collection, USA
Kerry Stokes Collection
King Edward Memorial Hospital, Perth, WA
Murdoch University Art Collection, WA
National Australia Bank
National Gallery of Victoria, Ian Potter Center, Melbourne, VIC
Northern Territory University Collection, NT
Parliamentary Art Collection, Aboriginal People's Room, Parliament House, Perth, WA
Phillip Harding Collection, QLD
Queensland Art Gallery, QLD
Westfarmers Collection, WA


2013 Under The Sun: The Kate Challis RAKA Award for Visual Arts