Featured Contributor

Pauline Napangardi Gallagher

Emu Dreaming

About Pauline Napangardi Gallagher

Pauline Napangardi Gallagher was born in 1952 in Yuendumu in northern Australia. She went to the local school in Yuendumu and soon after married her promised husband, who is now deceased. 

Pauline moved to Nyirripi, about 160 kms from Yuendumu, and she still lives there. She has three sons, two daughters and fifteen grandchildren. Some of her family live in Nyirripi and the rest live in Yuendumu, Kintore and Papunya, other Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

Pauline’s country is Pikilyi (Vaughan Springs), a sacred water hole and located near Mount Doreen Station west of Yuendumu and approximately 350 km northwest of Alice Springs.

Since 2006 Pauline has painted with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, a Yuendumu-based art centre. She paints her father’s stories – Pikilyi Jukurrpa (Pikilyi Dreaming) and Mina Mina Jukurrpa (Mina Mina Dreaming), about her land, its features and animals. These have been passed down through the family for millennia. She continues to paint when she visits Yuendumu or when canvas, paint and brushes are delivered to Nyirripi by the art centre, which has done this since 2005.

Pauline loves colour and uses an unrestricted palette to develop a modern interpretation of her traditional Aboriginal culture.


“According to Indigenous legend, emus were more than just birds. They were creator spirits that soared through the skies above, looking over the land. These birds were incredibly helpful, so it makes sense that Emu in the Sky helped Indigenous people predict what was happening in the world around them. Depending on the time of year, Emu in the Sky is oriented to either appear sitting or running. And depending on the position the Emu was in, Indigenous people knew whether they should be out hunting for emus or collecting their eggs.