Aurukun women will tell their stories of country at a KickArts exhibition opening in Cairns tomorrow (July 13). The exhibition runs until August 5 as part of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) satellite program.
Ngan Aurukun Wanch Aak Puul Ngantan Yumpenan (We are Aurukun women making the stories of our country) features 12 artworks including stunning paintings by senior artist Jean Walmbeng and emerging artists Bettina Pootchemunka, Flora Woolla, Georgina Keppel, Francesca Walmbeng and Sheryl Panulkan.
Aurukun Shire Council Mayor Dereck Walpo said this was the first exhibition in many years by the women of the Akay Koo’oila Women’s Art Centre which is part of Aurukun’s Wik and Kugu Art Centre.
“These ladies have produced some remarkable work that shows the extraordinary beauty of their country around Aurukun,” he said.
Artist Georgina Keppel has painted Miy Korth – Lily (2017), a memory of water lilies from her childhood when she holidayed at Meripah Station near Coen where her father worked.
“I used to swim in the lagoons and collect lilies called miy korth. They have a round root which we would collect and dry in the sun. We would cook them in the ashes and eat them,” Ms Keppel said.
“The design of the painting has been handed down by my mum Enid, from the Winchanum clan, who passed away a long time ago.”
Coinciding with the exhibition is the launch of a catalogue of the late Akay Koo’olia’s paintings which feature on the Indigenous Art Centre Alliance wall at KickArts.
Mayor Walpo said the Women’s Art Centre was named after Akay Koo’oila who was born on July 1, 1923 in Aurukun, living there until she passed away in 2014 aged 91, the oldest community member at the time.
“From the Apalech Nation, Akay spent extended periods at Ti-Tree Outstation with her husband and three children and loved going out fishing and gathering,” he said.
“The love and memories of Ti-Tree Outstation are reflected in Akay’s paintings which were produced during the latter time of her life when even with failing eyesight she continued to paint.
“Her works represent her own individual dynamic perspective – a vivid representation of her country and the well-acknowledged abundance and variety of bush foods.”