Stories of childhood, families and country unfolded in Aurukun as the community’s women got together to participate in the Women’s Painting and Weaving Workshop over the past two weeks.
Aurukun Shire Mayor Dereck Walpo said the resulting paintings were a credit to the women, some of whom had never painted before, with half regularly attending the Cape York Employment activities at the Women’s Art Centre.
“Aurukun is known for its unique art which appears in galleries around the world,” he said.
“In fact, just last week our community’s art was praised by Skytrans co-owner and Cowboys captain Jonathon Thurston at a function celebrating the first birthday of the airline.
“It was really pleasing to see what a huge success this workshop was with 43 different participants including more than 20 ladies ranging in age from 16 to 71 attending each day.
“I look forward to some of the participants finding a niche for themselves as part of our growing artistic community.”
Participant Jean Walmbeng, known as Aunty Jean, has had her work exhibited nationally, but still found the workshop invaluable.
Aunty Jean draws on her life experiences with her art, painting stories about growing up in her tribal country Kencherang and taking her children to camp at her late husband’s tribal place, Love River.
“My last little boy Mario grew up in Love River. Mario and my granddaughter Celestine grew up together in Love River. I used to live there when those two kids were little,” she said.
Renowned independent Aurukun artist and weaver Mavis Ngallametta told the group about her story of starting to be a painter, showing them how to look after and handle the paints, canvas and brushes.
She demonstrated ghost net basket weaving techniques, talked about collecting ochres and clay and showed them how to make the black charcoal that she uses in her paintings.
A linguist recorded the women’s stories about their paintings in language and in English for use when the work is exhibited.