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Jilloorlban Spring, Mabel Downs, 2018

by Shirley Purdie

Jilloorlban Spring, Mabel Downs, 2018

“This (dotted circle in bottom right) is my grandmother, another one – not my own one.
This is my aunty. This (circle in the top right) is where my grandmother, when she bin eat that snake, she bin sick. That snake was my father, and it made my grandmother sick, and they bin tell her, ‘you gonna have ‘em baby’.”

This story is about different sites that Shirley’s relatives occupy or relate stories to. Old Bayallal’s mother (her aunty’s mum) is buried in a cave located on a hill in Mabel Downs. Not far from Bayallal’s mother is another old aunty – Shirley’s father’s cousinsister (In Gija custom, two sisters may be called a mother to each other’s offspring). The top site features Jilloorlban Spring, leading to Mabel Downs River. It is the site where Shirley’s grandmother discovered she was pregnant. She had been feeling very ill, and was vomiting after eating a snake. Later on, the elder women told her she was going to have a baby. That snake she had eaten symbolised Shirley’s father’s conception.

Courtesy of Shirley Purdie (Nangari) and Warmun Art Centre