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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Gelbayen (Mabel Downs), 2018

by Shirley Purdie

“This my dad’s mother. They bin say how she bin passed away, and they bin put him (her) la that tree to find out more how she bin passed away. They bin pull him (her) down from this tree and take him la cave and put him (her) away.”

This is the burial site of Shirley’s paternal grandmother. When she passed away, the elders took her body and wrapped it up in Mendammbirri (paperbark) and put it up in a tree in Mabel Downs, near the river, following Gija traditional customs. As she wasn’t very old, the family wanted to find out more about how she passed away. After they did find out the possible cause of her death, they buried her in a cave nearby, in the hills of Mabel Downs.

Related information

Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 (detail) by Linde Ivimey
Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 (detail) by Linde Ivimey
Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 (detail) by Linde Ivimey
Marilyn Ball, Albatross, 2018 (detail) by Linde Ivimey

So Fine

Contemporary women artists make Australian history

Previous exhibition, 2018

This exhibition features new works from ten women artists reinterpreting and reimagining elements of Australian history, enriching the contemporary narrative around Australia’s history and biography, reflecting the tradition of storytelling in our country.

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The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.