Mildred Benny, daughter of Nora Tjookootja, was born
at Bililuna Station around 1951 and now lives at Wangkatjungka
with her children. Her husband has passed away.
Nora left the Great Sandy Desert with other family members
and walked north along the Canning Stock Route towards
Bililuna and Balgo. Mildred was taken from her parents
when she was young. Later with her husband Nora moved
to Christmas Creek station, where the Wangkatjungka Community
was eventually established on land excised from the station.
Mildred became interested in painting after seeing the
work produced by elders of the Community who had begun
painting as part of their course at the Karriyili Adult
Education Annex. This operated at Wangkatjungka Community
from 1994 to 1998.
Mildred often paints her mother's traditional
country in the Great Sandy Desert. She prefers to paint in earth
tones and her paintings feature a precise placement of symbols
on a carefully executed ground of dots. To date, her paintings
have been exhibited alongside other Wangkatjungka artists in
Perth, Broome and Canberra.
|Rosie was born about 1935 near Nyirla, at Pulyayi waterhole,
near Well 39 on the Canning Stock Route. She moved with
other family members north along the Canning Stock Route
towards the white settlements of the Kimberley cattle station
country. She moved first to Bililuna station where she milked
the nanny goats, working for rations. Later she moved to
Christmas Creek station.
Rosie paints the country where she grew up with her family
before they were separated from their country and moved
to Christmas Creek Station. She currently lives at Wangkatjungka
and sometimes camps at the homeland of Ngaranjadu.
Rosie's paintings have been exhibited in Perth, Melbourne,
Brisbane and Broome. Rosie appeared in the film Rabbit
Proof Fence singing at Jigalong in 2002.
Gracie was born in 1949 on the original Billiluna Station,
where her mother (Mary Tjaatju, who later also became
an artist at Balgo) and father worked. When she was a
girl, her parents moved to the second of three mission
sites, which was about 20 km west of present day Balgo.
She lived in the girl's dormitory in the old Mission
during the 1950s and 1960s, before marrying and having
four children, two of whom also paint.
Gracie was one of the early Balgo painters, though she
has also lived for extended periods at Christmas Creek
(Wangkatjungka), near Fitzroy Crossing.
She mostly paints stories from the women's skin groups, the
Wati Kutjarra (two men) Dreaming and Ngamarlu Rockhole site,
which is close to Balgo. Gracie Greene's paintings and sculptures
have appeared in numerous exhibitions and publications.
Janie Lee was born at the old mission at Balgo around
1945. Her family had lived in the area of the Canning
Stock Route, her mother was born at Kulyayi, the site
of well 42.
Janie says that stockman had given her parents bullock
meat and tobacco. They liked bullock meat and followed
one group all the way north to the end of the stock route.
"Everybody bin come. Everybody from the desert".
The story of first contact along the stock route had seen
many people move towards cattle stations to the north
During the late 1940s the family lived round Balgo, then moved
to Christmas Creek. By this time, all the Wangkajuna people
had come together at Christmas Creek for ceremony time. Janie's
mother and the children moved between the sheep station at Thangoo
where cousin Peter Goodigie worked, and Christmas Creek.
When Jamie was old enough she started working at the station
house. First in the garden, later inside the house. "We
learn about (station) work. We work for rations." Janie
married and had three children, who grew up at Christmas Creek.
Later they moved to the new community of Ngumpan, closer to
the main highway.
Janie did not start painting until 2003. She began to paint
in the Wangkatjunka Arts Project run by Japingka Gallery. Janie
paints stories from ancestral homelands belonging to her extended
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