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Mirdidingkingathi Juwurnda Sally Gabori, Kaiadilt c. 1924–2015, Dibirdibi Country – Topway 2006, synthetic polymer paint on linen
Credit: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, © Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda/Licensed by Viscopy

The incredible life and work of Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, a senior Kaiadilt woman from Bentinck Island in Queensland’s Gulf of Carpentaria who discovered painting in the last decade of her life and found phenomenal success, is the subject of a fascinating new retrospective opening today at the Ian Potter Centre.

Entitled Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori: Dulka Warngiid – Land of All, the exhibition is a celebration of Gabori’s extraordinary artistic output in the final years of her life (the artist died last year) after she discovered painting in 2005 at a workshop at the local art centre on her home of Mornington Island.

Gabori, who first lived on Bentinck Island before she was forced to leave by European settlers in 1948 following a prolonged drought broken by a devastating cyclone, had never painted prior to that day and with no local art tradition to follow she quickly forged her own. Gabori then embarked on a radical exploration of her connection to her homeland, her family, her life over 90 years and her culture in an entirely new visual language brought to life through her incredible use of colour and a palpable sense of energy. Her works are now held in major international institutions, including Musée du quai Branly in Paris and the Aboriginal Art Museum in Utrecht, Netherlands.

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Mirdidingkingathi Juwurnda Sally Gabori, Kaiadilt c. 1924–2015, Dibirdibi Country 2012, synthetic polymer paint on canvas
Credit: © Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda/Licensed by Viscopy

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Mirdidingkingathi Juwurnda Sally Gabori, Kaiadilt c. 1924–2015, Dibirdibi Country 2008, synthetic polymer paint on linen
Credit: © Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda/Licensed by Viscopy

Bruce McLean, curator of the exhibition and Curator of Indigenous Australian Art at Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, said in a statement that “It’s important to recognise the joy she brought to her painting… When she painted, she talked to the paintings and she sung to them and she laughed a lot. She would take breaks and laugh; she was reliving moments and memories. That’s the sort of joy she brought to these paintings, and they’re really full of that energy of life that she had.”

Dulka Warngiid – Land of All will feature over 30 works on loan from the Queensland Art Gallery’s GOMA, including Gabori’s very first paintings, large¬≠ scale works created in collaboration with other senior Kaiadilt women and works she created in her final years. You can find out more information here.

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori: Dulka Warngiid – Land of All is on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia from September 23 2016 until January 29 2017


Tile image: Mirdidingkingathi Juwurnda Sally Gabori, Kaiadilt c. 1924–2015, Nyinyilki 2008, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 198.8 x 460.6 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Cover image: Mirdidingkingathi Juwurnda Sally Gabori, Kaiadilt c. 1924–2015, All the fish 2005, synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 190.0 x 424.5 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

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