Leah Leaman Yinpingali Namitja is a Malngin / Gurindji artist who is proud to be an artist at Karungkarni Art Centre in Kalkaringi, Northern Territory. Leah takes a pivotal role in many Art Centre projects including two recent culture/language/art/science projects, Tamarra: Termites and their Mounds and the Electro-Magnetic perception in Gurindji people project (in collaboration with Prof Felicity Meakins of UQ and Prof Joe Kirschvink and researchers from Caltech in Los Angeles).
Leah was born in Old Darwin Hospital in 1971. Her mother’s country is Jutamaliny on Limbunya Station, and it is from here that she gets her totem, the red-backed kingfisher. Leah is currently employed by the NT Government Department of Families. Previously, she worked for Katherine West Health Board as receptionist, at Kalkaringi School and as a Gurindji Ranger. Leah has served on a number of Indigenous boards including Karungkarni Art and Culture, Gurindji Aboriginal Corporation and Aboriginal Benefit Account. Leah’s hobbies include fishing in the local rivers and waterholes, and painting. Her paintings reveal her love of freshwater and fish as she often uses them as subject matter. She also likes to paint brolga. Her paintings try to blend traditional stories in a contemporary format.
Leah’s artwork has featured in a number of events and exhibitions including the annual exhibition at Charles Darwin University ACIKE Unit commemorating the Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture (2015-2018) and the annual Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair. Her artwork, Women Collecting Flowers and Bushfood, is currently touring Australia as part of the exhibition, Still In My Mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality, curated by Brenda L. Croft.
Growing up in Middle Camp, Daguragu, Leah learned to fish and to work in the big community garden. Her husband, Daniel Palmer is an eastern Arrente man and they have three children and seven grandchildren.
‘I loved art, especially painting, when I was a small child. Back then, when I was in about Grade 3 and living in Daguragu Community, I didn’t have access to paints or coloured pencils at home so I would use charcoal from our fire to draw. Sometimes my Mum would bring me lead pencils whenever she came back visiting the Community.
I have always enjoyed the great outdoors, fishing, camping and helping the old grannies catching bait for them be it grasshoppers, cicadas, lizards and small birds. I loved watching the sunset and sunrise because of the rich reds, oranges, pinks and purples.
I feel blessed that I have grown up in the times when many of our elders are alive and have taught me many things, cultural things and about respecting my fellow man.’ Leah Leaman