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Mornington Island Artists

Agnes Kohler - Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Agnes Kohler
(nee Goongarra)

Born: 1952
Origin: Dulkawalne - Bentinck Island
Language: Kayardild

Biography
"I was born soon after my people crossed over to Mornington Island. In those days the Lardil mob foster or adopt us as their family. The Jacobs adopted me and my sister Gay. In the 60s I was sent out to work in the mainland. I worked at Julia Creek. As I raised my family, I also adopted a few more children. Now I am surrounded by my family.

"I use to muck around scribbling, drawing little houses with my kids. My children tell me to join the old people here at the Art Centre, save me from worrying, take my mind off things. It's also good to be along side family members at the Art Centre working, creating and learning together."

Amanda Jane Gabori, Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Amanda Jane Gabori
Dibirdibi

Born: 1966
Origin: Dulkawalne - Bentinck Island
Language: Kayardild

Biography
"I was born in the township of Gununa on Mornington Island at the old hospital which is now the Council Ofice. I am one of 10 children. I went to school here on Mornington island and then went to Atherton State School to complete years 11 & 12.

"I have 4 children and 2 grandchildren. I started painting when I was just sitting at home and wanted to go up and join my mum painting as she was really enjoying it. I paint my Country on Bentinck Island and Dibirdibi which is my language name and totem given to me by my father. Dibirdibi is the small river rock cod. I like to paint the scales that cover his body."

Christopher Watt - Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Christopher Watt

Born: 1968
Language: Lardil
Country: Baralkia
Home: Mornington Island (Gunana) : QLD

Group Exhibitions

2015 Lardil Renaissance
2015 CIAF
2008 Art Mob Gallery
2008 Anindilyakwa Arts and Cultural Centre
2008 Opening Dugong Beach Resort

Dolly Lagatha - Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Dolly Loogatha
Thunduyingathui Bangaa

Born: circa 1946
Origin: Dulkawalne - Bentinck Island
Language: Kayardild

Biography

"I was only a small child when our people were brought to Mornington Island and forced to live in the mission. I grew up in the dormitory like all the other children. My father King Alfred was killed when I was only a baby so I was really grown up by the missionaries. It was hard, they were cruel to us if we were naughty and would lock us up or cut our hair really short. As I grew into a young woman I went and worked on lots of cattle stations around Cloncurry and ended up moving to Darwin where I had a partner and lived there for 30 years away from Mornington Island and Bentinck Island.

"I only came back in 2008 so that I could be with my family and live back on Bentinck Island. When old May died the other Bentinck artists asked me to come and join their group and paint at the Art Centre. I had done a little bit of painting in Darwin on small canvas boards more for fun than anything else. I really like to go to the Art Centre and paint with old Aunty Sally and my other sisters. We have so much fun. I paint Thundi where I was born and Makarrki where my father was born. It makes me feel good and proud when I see the finished painting."

Dorothy Gabori - Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Dorothy Gabori

Born: 1959
Origin: Dulkawalne - Bentinck Island
Language: Kayardild

Biography

"I am the fifth child of my mother Sally Gabori. My father was Pat Gabori, he was a hunter, a hard working old fella. We use to go bush with our parents who taught us a lot about our homelands both Bentinck Island and Sweers Island.

I love being at the Art Centre with my sisters and the rest of my family. We learn so much from the old people about our land and country. There is always so many activities to get into, I am glad that we have the Art Centre to go to."

Elsie Gabori - Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Elsie Gabori
Dibirdibi

Born: circa 1947
Origin: Dulkawalne - Bentinck Island
Language: Kayardild

Biography

"I was born on Bentinck Island. When I was about 2 or 3 years old our people were all taken from Bentinck island to the mission on Mornington Island because there was a severe fresh water shortage on Bentinck Island. I was placed in the dormitory and kept away from my parents. I attended the mission school along with the Lardil children of Mornington Island. I went to school until I turned 15 and then I went to work as a housemaid in the mission house. I was paid about 10 shillings a week but we lived off the land and sea and didn't really need money.

"A vacancy opened on a cattle property on the mainland at Kamilaroy and I was sent there to work as a house servant for 3 years before I returned to Mornington Island. I raised a family of 3 girls and 2 boys with my present partner Bob Thompson.

"I only had housework to do and was bored. My mum was selling lots of paintings and really enjoyed painting. One of my brothers passed away so I went up to the Art Centre with mum to keep her company and decided to try painting for myself. I found that I loved it as well. I really want to become a good artist like my mum and paint about Bentinck Island and my people and their stories."

Ethel Thomas - Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Ethel Thomas
Warthardangathi Bijarrba

Born: circa 1946
Origin: Dulkawalne - Bentinck Island
Language: Kayardild

Biography

"Aunty Sally Gabori showed me her paintings when she first visited Bentinck again aGer being away for such a long time. She gave me one because I am her favourite. Now I am doing the same paintings with my sisters and aunties. Its good painting all day to get away from the house and have a break.

"I was born at Oak Tree Point on Bentinck Island or as we call it Lookati. This is on the North side of the island. I was only very small when the missionaries came and took us to Mornington Is. I was asleep when it happened and when I woke up we were on Mornington Island. I missed my parents when we were in the dormitory and we would oGen run away to be with them. When I was older I worked in the hospital and the mission house. Not long aGer that I went to Karumba on the mainland and worked on a cattle station. I moved around a few stations and on one, Esmerelda, I met my husband George Thomas.

"He came back to Mornington with me and we got married there and had my eldest son there as well. We went back to Croydon on the mainland and was gone a long time. When my husband got sick and passed away I returned to Mornington in time for our people starting an outstation on Bentinck Island at Main Base or Ninjilki. Now I live at Bentinck Island my home again with all my family."

Helena Gabori - Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Helena Gabori

Born: 1963
Origin: Dulkawalne - Bentinck Island
Language: Kayardild

Biography

"I was born on Mornington Island and have lived my whole life here. I have only ever been to Bentinck Island once when my dad was still alive but I don't have any real connection with my Country. I have 5 children, 4 boys and 1 girl and all but youngest one Billy are over 18 and living their own lives.

"I really only started painting because I had to complete a certain number of hours for Jobfind not because of how good my mum became as an artist or for money. I'm glad I started painting as it gives me something to do and I really enjoy coming tot he Art Centre with the other artists and having joke and fun while we paint. I'm closer to my Dad's side of the family than Mum's so I paint my father's father and mother's country a lot."

Henrietta Naimes - Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Henrietta Namies

Born: 1952
Language: Yangkaal
Country: Mayanba - Forsythe Island
Home: Mornington Island (Gunana) : QLD

Biography

"My mother was Thelma Burke, one of the original artsts that started painting with old Sally Gabori. I follow her footsteps enjoying making jewelleries and weaving. The art centre helps us get together and try out new medium like silver, wool and silk, glass as well as the traditional painting.

Every time I come at the art centre, I feel mum's spirit with me. It's all those precious memories of creating and yarning with mum in her younger days, when life was slower. I feel her strong when I sit down quietly creating new artworks at the art centre. I miss that old girl."

- Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Karen Chong

Born: 1960
Language: Lardil
Country: Bidjegunn
Home: Mornington Island (Gunana) : QLD

Biography

"I was born on Mornington Island. My father was Waanyi a mainlander and my mother Lardil. I went to school and I stayed with my grandparents as my mother was away working on a station on the mainland.

When I was in my twenties I went to live in Normanton and Croydon. I returned to Mornington in 1982 to marry my late husband Bruce Chong. We have 6 children, 2 girls and 4 boys and 17 grandchildren.

I used to do a lot of shell work making pictures by glueing shells onto canvas boards and making necklaces. I started painting at school using chalk and crayons and developed a love of painting at a young age.

Arnold Watt a painter who painted alongside Dick & Lindsey Roughsey taught me a lot when I was young and he told me to keep at it and I'll get better. It was good to come and start painting at the Art Centre with Arnold before he passed away. It made me feel like a real artist.

My husband and I spent a lot of time out bush with our kids. His outstation was at Gabunyaree where we had a house. I used to do shell work and paint at our outstation and sell it around town.

I only recently started painting at the Art Centre so I could join in with the group and not paint on my own. I love to paint about my culture and country. I paint 2 days a week at the Art centre like a part time job and I enjoy being there as part of the Art Centre family enjoying each others company and stories."

Kaye Bush - Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Kaye Bush

Born: 1972
Language: Lardil
Country: Baralkia
Home: Mornington Island (Gunana) : QLD

Biography

"I like painting body paint up designs and totem designs. To me this is the strongest thing I can paint to express my feelings about who I am and where I come from. I like to paint at the Art Centre with the other artists because it is fun and interesting and gives me something to look forward to each week.

We also get to work with different media like felts, silver, hebel and ceramics. I love sculpturing forming figures out of different materials. I love working with my hands.

I was born in Mt Isa like a lot of people here but always think of myself as born and bred on Mornington Island. I went to school here and have lived here all my life. I have 4 children, 1 boy and 3 girls. My youngest is 8. I love to go camping and fishing and also collecting small shells from the beach to make shell necklaces."

Kirstin Goongarra - Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Kirstin Goongarra
Alison

Born: 1984
Origin: Dulkawalne - Bentinck Island
Language: Kayardild

Biography

"I come to paint with my mum, Agnes. It's nice to paint side by side with her, listening to the old girls yarning about the old days when life was simpler.

"Painting is a way to reconnect with myself, my culture and country. It makes me strong and proud to represent myself and my mob."

Netta Loogatha - Mornington Island Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Netta Loogatha
Birrmuyingathi Maali

Born: circa 1942
Origin: Dulkawalne - Bentinck Island
Language: Kayardild

Biography

"It's good to make artworks, learn from each other. We learned all about our country and story places from our old people. Now we are painting and drawing them so our grandchildren will learn all about them.

"Our Aunty Sally Gabori showed us the way, to learn from her and follow in her footsteps. We have our own paintings and drawings now of our homelands and sacred places, where we were born, oyster reefs and waterholes or camping spots. I am happy to show other people my country and culture through my art. It brings a smile to my face when I finish an artwork and see a part of me on it.

"I was born on Bentinck Island at a place on the Northern side called Bilmee. We lived in humpies then - no clothes nothing at all. I learnt to hunt from an early age, how to fish and collect shellfish, how to gather foods from the bush. I was young when the Europeans came in 1946 to take us away from our home and forced us to live on Mornington Island in the dormitory in the mission there.

"My father was King Alfred, he had six wives. When he died, his brother Percy took over the family and took care of us. When I grew up I went to the mainland and worked as a housemaid like a lot of the young girls from the island. I enjoyed this time being young and having fun. I returned to Mornington and became strongly involved in Land Rights and my people's wish to return to our homeland. I was a grandmother by the time we returned to our homeland and I use to live there most of the year, only returning to Mornington for the wet season. Now I am getting too old to live there. I cry for an opportunity to set my foot on my homeland again. My artworks have become even more important to me to keep my memories of my home and culture ever strong."

Scott Roughsey - Normanton Artist - Ancient Journeys Gallery

Alex (Scott) Roughsey

Born: 1988
Origin: Mornington Island
Totem: Pelican
Language: Lardil

Biography

‘Scott’ Roughsey was born on Mornington Island and went to school there. His grandmother has been an important presence in his life, and a strong influence on his development as an artist.

Scott’s art is informed by his culture, the beauty of his homeland and the stories of his ancestors. He ‘finds peace in making art’, drawing on both traditional and contemporary styles to represent the landscape of his country and the totems of his people.  He uses acrylic paint on canvas as his medium.

Scott is the great grandson of the well - known artist Dick Roughsey, and hopes that one day he might become as well- known as his relative for his art.