In Profile: Lex Namponan

Wik and Kugu Art Centre

Born in 1971, Lex Namponan is one of eight children born to Angus Namponan and Chrissie Peermuggina. Lex’s father country is at Warpang, just inland from Cape Keerweer. His mother is from the adjoining country of Aayk, her language being Wik-Ngathan.

Lex’s father Angus, has the totem of Bush Rat, Freshwater Shark, Small Carpet Snake, Salmon, and Single-barb Hardwood Spear. Lex also shares other totems that are associated with the Wik-Akenh language and belong to the Apalech ceremonial group.

Lex’s father was a prominent carver in Aurukun and his sons have followed in his footsteps. Lex is the younger brother of Garry, Leigh, Bevan and older brother Leo, and all are carvers with the Wik and Kugu Art Centre.

Lex is an Apalech man and the dog is a very significant totem belonging to his clan group. The Story Place of the Ku’ (ancestral being or totem), associated with the Apalech ceremonial group is located in the south of the Wik and Kugu region at Eeremangk near the mouth of the Knox River. This story links the land and the sea and is a tale of transformation where the Ku’ who had travelled from the distant Northern Territory to Cape York Peninsula, leaves the land, enters Knox River and becomes Nyiingkuchen, the Freshwater Shark. This story also tells how Ku’ gave language to the region. Each Dreamtime dog has its name, its colours and its qualities of character. The Ku’ song cycles and dances are still performed at house opening ceremonies today.

While often using natural ochre colours, Lex also likes to use a vibrant blue, and occasionally you will see one of his blue Camp Dogs on exhibit. Lex has been making art with the Wik and Kugu Art Centre for over ten years, and has exhibited his work in many exhibitions including Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi in Melbourne, Sydney Contemporary at Carriageworks, and the JamFactory in Adelaide. Lex’s carvings are also part of the National Gallery of Victoria and National Museum of Australia’s collections.

Main image credit: Lex Namponan with a Camp Dog. Image: Wik and Kugu Art Centre

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