(Transcript from World News Radio)
The life and works of one of Australia’s best-known Indigenous artists has been put into print, two months after her passing.
Sally Gabori’s paintings are exhibited around the world, her innate connection to country captured on canvas.
Abby Dinham reports.
Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori put onto canvas a connection with Gulf of Carpentaria country that she couldn’t explain in words.
Art collector Patrick Corrigan has a large collection of her works.
“She’s painting the clouds, she’s painting the storms, she’s painting the land on Bentinck Island where she was born and on Mornington Island where she’s lived the last 40 years.”
Her career as a contemporary artist was short.
She only began painting on canvas in her 80s.
But in the decade before her death in February this year, she gained international acclaim.
Patrick Corrigan describing her paintings as powerful and emotive.
“The first time I saw the works I was blown away, that an elderly lady with a few brushes could come up with these stunning pieces.”
Her paintings tell the story of her traditional upbringing on Bentinck Island.
She lived a traditional life, learning very little English.
Curator and art historian Djon Mundine says Mrs Gabori was of the Kaiadilt people, who were very isolated from Western influence
“They lived by fishing and collecting they lived completely naked, exposed to the elements, they had another consciousness that is what comes out here, another connection to nature.”
In the 1940s she was forbibly removed from her country.
But Patrick Corrigan says her continued connection to her country was evident in her artwork.
“Even though they’ve left that community, there is something in the DNA where the memory is there of where they were 30-40 years ago.”
Mrs Gabori’s paintings are exhibited around Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Europe.
People attending an exhibition of her work in Melbourne say her work is abstract, but the story she tells is clear.
“I just see such strength, I love her later work which is so abstract. They’re so determined and so direct, you feel that communication from her about her country. They’re all so beautiful.”
Djon Mundiine says Mrs Gabori was a story teller, who had a lot to tell.
“I think she had another consciousness. She lived a very full life with an enormous number of children and she lives life and that energy comes out in the paintings.”
The story of her life and her artworks now immortalised in print, in a book titled simply Gabori.