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HomeNewsFirst Peoples‘Send my art to family’ – Artist profile: Louise Corpus

‘Send my art to family’ – Artist profile: Louise Corpus

Aunty Louise Corpus is a Yawuru woman with Chinese and Filipino heritage. The Waterloo-based artist is known for her bright personality, flashing wit and fierce sense of social and ecological justice.

Her journeys from Darwin and Broome, through saltwater country, hinterland and desert, to western Sydney and beyond, inform a lively passion for painting – for colours, motifs, symbols and statements of resistance.

The walls of her studio are filled with reference photographs, sketches and stencils as well as finished works, news clippings championing the union movement and Freedom Rides … alongside sporting heroes. “I barrack for every black fella with the ball or about to get it!” she laughs.

Much evokes the beauty of Yawuru country – the Kimberley coast, acacias and white gums, turtles on the beaches, snakes, lizards and stingrays … and pelicans, especially beloved.

As she begins work on a new painting, she explains, she usually has in mind a family member, someone to whom she will offer the image. “I gave Latrell Mitchell two paintings once,” she smiles. “I’ve also donated works to the AMS [Aboriginal Medical Service].”

Talking about art, then, means talking about family – personal and cultural concerns including the evils of racism and fracking, the brutality of mission workers, the collusion of church and state, the exploitation of pearl divers and labourers, opportunities for cross-cultural understanding and First Nations justice.

“Healthy living is important … good food and safe places for sharing.

“Good policy is important – the government has a responsibility to tell the truth, to lead. Why don’t they make January 1 the national holiday? Call it Nation Day? Not January 26 – name that for what it really is.

“Education and training are important,” Louise adds, extolling the virtues of Yawuru language and culture – connection to land, waters – sovereignty. “Mumuk!” she smiles warmly. “That means ‘goodbye’ in my language.”

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Profile by Louisa Dyce & Andrew Collis

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