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Makarrki – King Alfred’s Country 2008 | Synthetic polymer paint on linen | 200 x 600cm | Purchased 2009 with funds from Professor John Hay, AC, and Mrs Barbara Hay through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Bentinck Island artists ‘Makarrki – King Alfred’s Country’ 2008

The Bentinck Island artists are a group of very senior female painters of the Kaiadilt people who live on Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria: Birmuyingathi Maali Netta Loogatha, Rayarriwarrtharrbayingat Amy Loogatha, Sally Gabori, Warthadangathi Bijarrba Ethel Thomas, Thunduyingathi Bijarrb May Moodoonuthi, Kuruwarriyingathi Bijarrb Paula Paul and Wirrngajingathi Bijarrb Dawn Naranatjil. They commenced painting in 2006 after Sally Gabori became involved in painting workshops run for participants at the aged care facility there. She took great pride in being able to tell her stories through her art and introduced members of her extended family to painting, creating a small-scale but important movement within the community.

Makarrki – King Alfred’s Country 2008 was made by all seven artists of the group during a painting workshop inspired by a visit back to their original home on Bentinck Island. It shows the country of King Alfred, a senior Kaiadilt law man and leader during a time of incredible change in the late 1940s, which saw the entire Kaiadilt population uprooted from Bentinck and Sweers Islands to Mornington Island. The artists have said:

We have painted one of the most important places on Bentinck Island. This is where King Alfred was born. This is his country. King Alfred was Sally’s big brother and he was also Netta’s father. He was famous as strong warrior and leader, he was feared by other tribes. This place is special to all seven of us. We all have close connection to this country. That is why we picked it as painting for us to do together.

Categories: Artist, Exhibition

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