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Meet the Artist behind the Makukara Ngurra Print

Maddy, the creator of Yapa Mali, is a Wangaaypuwan and Wiradjuri woman and artist sharing her rich culture through her artworks, workshops and storytelling. We were thrilled to work with Maddy on our newest artist collaboration print, Makukara Ngurra. 

Hear from Maddy about the importance of celebrating her community’s culture and the inspiration she gets from living and working on Country.

Thanks so much for collaborating with Amble Maddy! We'd love to hear a little bit about yourself, where you’re from and what you do?

Maddy: I’m a Wangaaypuwan and Wiradjuri woman, we speak Ngiyampaa as this is the language of Wangaaypuwan Country. I live on Country in Nyngan, which is in Central Western NSW so it's quite a small community. 

I grew up on the Central Coast NSW but made the choice to move onto Country 2 years ago now. This has allowed me to connect with my traditional land and Ancestors which has highly influenced not only my work but my overall wellbeing. I regularly facilitate Cultural workshops in my community, practising in art, dance, weaving, language and adornment making. I’m very passionate about sharing Culture and growing a strong Cultural identity in my community. 


Tell us about this piece, Makukara Ngurra. What is the story and inspiration behind it?

Maddy: My signature style is mapping out Country and using symbols to represent certain landscapes, which is a traditional method demonstrated on our cave art out here. This particular artwork shows the red dirt landscape of Wangaaypuwan Country, as if you were flying over it. I often use Google Earth to map out my artworks, while using the colours and shapes to inspire the work.

I also try to connect with Country. For example, for this artwork I went and sat out on the red dirt on Country for the day, whether I was doing some weaving or practising my Ngiyampaa Language, it allows me to connect with Country, as well as feeling my Ancestors can give me inspiration on what to paint. 



What does Makukara Ngurra mean? And how do we pronounce it?

Maddy: It’s in my language, Ngiyampaa, we have very unique sounds and pronunciation of words. It’s pronounced Maku-kara Ngu-rra, the ‘ngu’ sound is very common in Ngiyampaa, it’s said like the NG sound in siNGer or goiNG, you kinda say it through your throat. Then the double R sound is a trill of the tongue, it sounds a bit Scottish.
It means being one Country, so for me this means being connected as one as explained in the story. 

Do you have a typical process when creating? Would you have a regular week, or is every day/week different? Do you work on one piece or multiple pieces at a time?

Maddy: I honestly have so many different projects happening at once! Right now as I’m writing this, I’m also emailing back and forth with Community, planning our next Women’s Cultural Camp. Sharing within the community is my cultural obligation, it's vital we pass on our knowledge and encourage our younger mob. But I definitely try to find the time for my own creative cultural expression.
So nothing is ever really scheduled when it comes to Yapa Mali and my artwork. I have many stories and places on the list to paint next, but I try not to rush it. When I have time to connect with those places, I’ll wait to see what comes to me and go from there. 

Tell us about your work creatively. What’s your favourite medium and how do you use it to create?

Maddy: I’m definitely an all rounder with my work, as long as it's culturally influenced then I do a bit of everything. I also make my own songs in Ngiyampaa which I sing for my dance groups. This has allowed me to be creative with language, while learning it at the same time. I also weave and create Adornment pieces, using materials gathered from Country such as emu feathers, grasses, seeds etc. 

But painting has always been my favourite creative outlet. As I mentioned before, I’m able to map out Country while telling the story of special places or Ngurrumpaa (dreamtime) stories of my Country. 



How did you become an artist? Were you always interested growing up, or did someone introduce you to art?

Maddy: I began painting Cultural designs and stories from the age of 10, which my mum taught me. I would enter my pieces into local NAIDOC exhibitions, which I was quite successful at and sold some of my first pieces. This definitely encouraged me to pursue my artwork. I’ve been lucky to come from a very Culturally strong family. I was encouraged from a young age to practise and be proud of our Culture! So this definitely allowed me to keep learning my Culture, which has influenced my art. 

What/who inspires you as an artist?

Maddy: Country and Culture will always be my biggest inspiration, both are completely embedded into my work while storytelling. 

What do you hope to convey through your art?

Maddy: I hope to share and bring awareness to our Cultural stories as well as the morals behind them. Traditionally, our Ancestors used these stories to teach the children important lessons growing up, and I believe everyone could benefit from these stories and the importance of our Culture today. 

Everything I do and hope to convey revolves around Culture - practising, sharing, just keeping it alive!

Who are your favourite artists that we should be following?

Maddy: Garuwa! They’re a First Nations Storytelling Agency, whom I worked with to shoot my first collection and we created a beautiful short film together. They have a really special talent for telling Mob’s story while capturing the beauty of our Culture. 

Where do you love to go on Country?

Maddy: I have a few special spots I visit every regularly, either by the river or out bush. The beauty of where I live, you only have to drive down the road 5 mins and it’s completely secluded and peaceful. Which allows me to connect with Country everyday. 


What advice would you give to your younger self?

Maddy: Do not give up and keep creating, learning and practising Culture! 

What’s something exciting coming up in 2024?

Maddy: Currently I’m about to release the whole new collection for Yapa Mali! But I already have some new ideas for next year’s collection which I’ll slowly be working on throughout the year.

Where can we follow you and your work?

Maddy: Follow my Instagram @yapamali - I’m always posting the latest with the brand and what I’m up to.


We’ve loved working with Maddy and highly encourage you follow her beautiful and inspiring work at @yapamali and make sure you check out the collaboration collection of Waterproof Jackets here