Jillian Namatjira’s passionate paintings expressed a joy of life, despite pain. She shared her feelings, which ranged from hope to exuberance. She lived at Areyonga and her archetypal scenes were set in beautiful country, probably far out west of Hermannsburg. The author feels very touched by her eloquence in her tragically short life.
Jillian, the daughter of Enos Namatjira, was born at Areyonga (west of Hermannsburg) and died in Alice Springs. Her mother was Pitjantjara woman Ruby Moida, born 1928.
Jillian was married to Pitjantjara man Hezekiel Tjinagoona (also born at Areyonga) in July 1938. Enos was half Western Arrernte and half Kukatja. Thus Jillian was half Pitjantjara one quarter Western Arrernte and one quarter Kukatja. Jillian was listed on the 1957 Register of Wards and the 1963 Nominal Roll as living in Areyonga. (Her brother Herman Namatjira was also in Areyonga.) She was listed as Pitjantjara-Arrernte. She was described as Western Arrernte, Subsection (Skin) Kngwarreye (The Heritage of Namatjira: The Watercolourists of Central Australia).
Jillian won the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Aboriginal Artist of the Year Award in 1989.
She was active from about 1975 to the late 1980s. She may have died of tuberculosis.