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Warakurna: All the stories got into our minds and eyes


WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

One man went into the mineshaft. Another man standing outside pulled the ladder out. The dynamite went off, BLEW! Then he ran away. He didn’t tell the other whitefellas [miners]. He just ran into the bush. The whitefellas at the camp got worried and came looking and saw that man finished.

Jean Inyalanka Burke

An acrylic painting on canvas showing an aerial view of a blast coming from a square cut hole. There is a person at the bottom of the hole and two others above.
Miners, 2011, Jean Inyalanka Burke, acrylic on canvas, 763 x 1010 x 31 mm. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Wayne and Vicki McGeoch.

Jean Inyalnaka Burke was born at Arnumarapirti, near Irrunytju (Wingellina). A nickel deposit was discovered in the area by Southwestern Mining in the late 1950s. The incident depicted in Miners might have occurred in the early 1970s when a group of about 50 Aboriginal people were camped near the mine. Irrunytju was established as a community in 1975.

Jean Inyalanka Burke portrait.
Photo: Edwina Circuitt.

Jean Inyalanka Burke

Jean Inyalanka Burke was a multi-talented artist and storyteller, who had a major influence on the dynamic art scene at Warakurna with her acclaimed three-dimensional works in purnu (wood) and tjanpi (woven fibre). Her paintings built upon this background and extended her storytelling prowess.

As a child, Burke travelled with her family to the mission settlement of Ernabella, in South Australia.

When her mother died, Burke and her father, Mr Eddie, walked westward to Mount Margaret mission and then to Warburton Mission, where she attended school. Warakurna was Burke's husband's country.

View other works by Jean Inyalanka Burke

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