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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.

Yarralalil (bush woman), 2018

by Shirley Purdie

“This bush woman bin come from my country (from Rattigan’s Yard). She went east to live, to get married that way (in Oongbul, aka Corkwood Yard).”

In Shirley’s painting, there is a big cave (big dark space in the centre). The cave is in Corkwood Yard, and can only be seen by helicopter, because it has too many big hills to access by land. Yarralalil was a bush woman who lived in that cave. When Shirley’s family (her father and uncle) used to go mustering in Corkwood Yard, they used to see the bush woman come out of the cave (she is portrayed as the black circle, dotted with white). Shirley chose to depict the woman this way because she wanted to indicate her position, or where she was sighted. Yarralalil lived as a bush woman alone in that cave, without any influence from the external world.

Courtesy of Shirley Purdie (Nangari) and Warmun Art Centre

© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia


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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.