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Susan Wanji Wanji: Ducks and Waterlilies

Susan Wanji Wanji, Ducks and Waterlilies

The Artist

According to the Munupi Arts page, Susan Wanji Wanji was born in 1955 in the bush at Johnsons Bay near Maningrida.  Her parents wrapped her up in paperbark and took her by canoe to the mission at Maningrida. Susan grew up in the bush near Maningrida and when she was around 10 years old her dad made her a little paperbark canoe that she used to go everywhere in.  As soon as school was finished she used to run down with her paddle to her canoe.  She took the old people out to get cockles and crabs.  She used to hunt for stingray, crabs, mangrove worm, mud mussels, fish and cockles with the old people. She used to sail around with a sheet before her dad made me a canvas sail.   When Susan was out in rough weather her father used to yell out for her to come back in. This canoe from her childhood features in some of her paintings. Susan learnt from her mother how to weave intricately woven mats and baskets.1982 Susan moved with her partner to Melville Island and she worked at the health clinic in Snake Bay. Susan learnt how to make bark paintings and carvings from her Tiwi Uncle Romeo Puruntatameri.  He used to talk to the young ones telling them how to make carvings and paintings.  She also used to make the ceremonial poles (Tutunis). She learnt how to make the armbands and headbands from her Aunty Joberta Puruntatameri. The elders also taught her how to collect the ochres and cook them. Susan started working at Munupi Arts & Crafts in 1990 and has since developed a unique style that has influences from both Tiwi and Arnhem Land cultures. In 1992 Susan Wanji Wanji travelled to Paris representing Munupi Arts & Crafts and she assisted with the hanging of the Art Centre exhibition.  She continues to paint and exhibit with Munupi Art Centre and she was a finalist in the 2013 Telstra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Art Award. In 2016 Susan was commissioned by the Australian War Memorial Collection Canberra to create a painting of the Bombing of Darwin to commemorate this event.  Susan Wanji Wanji’s artwork is represented in many national as well as international collections.

Susan Wanji Wanji, Ducks and Waterlilies

The Work of Art

This colourful scene shows a stretch of water or billabong with waterlilies and wildfowl. It is a beautiful yet simple composition which came about from Susan's influences with the Tiwi Culture in the Northern Territory. This is one of 21 limited edition prints and was made using a linocut technique and four blocks loaded with colour.   Although it is titled 'ducks and waterlilies, examples located in other collections  are listed as 'Billabong' or simply untitled. The work of art is significant in the fact that it  helps to illustrate different indigenous landscapes and cultures  and  forms part of a rich indigenous tapestry .