Ngarralja Tommy May

Painter and printmaker

WANomineeSenior Australian of the Year2021

Ngarralja Tommy May is a Wangkajunga/Walmajarri painter and printmaker.

He is a founding member of the Karrayili Adult Education Centre, which taught people to read and write English. This helped them communicate effectively with government organisations on behalf of their communities.

Ngarralja is renowned as a keeper and teacher of Kurtal stories and ceremony and is skilled in traditional singing and dance. As an elder, he plays an important role in fostering the next generation of Kurtal people.

He has significantly contributed to the growth and resilience of Aboriginal arts and culture – holding positions in numerous boards and committees. This includes 21 years on the Association of Northern Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists board of directors.

Ngarralja utilises painting and printmaking to tell stories of his land, his dreaming and ceremony. He has exhibited nationally and internationally for more than 20 years, with his work represented in many collections including in the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria.