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Helicopter Ride with Brooksy

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Helicopter ride with Brooksy painting
Helicopter ride with Brooksy to See My Father's Ngurra (Country) (2011)

Ken Shepherd recalls seeing his father's birthplace for the first time in the painting Helicopter Ride with Brooksy to See My Father's Ngurra (Country) (2011).

Ken Shepherd talks about visiting Wapintja with David Brooks [anthropologist]:

I was worrying about seeing my ngurra, my country. I told Ernest [Bennett] and he spoke to Brooksy [David Brooks]. We went in the native title helicopter. We saw it, Pinnacle Hill [in sand dune country to the north of the Rawlinson Range]. My ngurra [country]. I was thinking hard. I cried when I saw that country. I paint this country because I love it. Ngayuku ngurra, ngayuku father-ku ngurra, ngayuku tjamu-ku ngurra [my country, my father's country and my grandfather's country]. I'll pass it onto my son. Tjukurrpa pulkanya [this is a really big Dreaming].

Anthropologist David Brooks talks about visiting Wapintja with Ken Shepherd:

One day at Warakurna, Ken showed me a painting and told me that it was of his father's birthplace, that he had often told him about when he (Ken) was young. Ken said he had always imagined the place and dreamed of going to see it, but he knew that neither he nor anyone could ever get there by vehicle. Nevertheless he felt a strong affinity with the place and often painted it from how he imagined it.
When he mentioned the name Wapintja, it rang a bell, and on looking through my notebooks I found that I had seen the site from a helicopter in the mid 1990s when doing some heritage work with Kiwirrkura men.
Soon afterwards a helicopter survey happened to be planned to do some work out of Warakurna. Wapintja was actually quite a long way from the area we were supposed to be surveying, but one of the good things about working in the bush is that you often get a fair bit of flexibility. I talked it all over with Ernest Bennett, nowadays the senior man at Warakurna, and we were able to take Ken up. So that was how Ken got to see his father's site.

Peter Thorley Curator, ATSIP

Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Wayne and Vicki McGeoch.