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Whitefellas Spinning Around

Warakurna: All the stories got into our minds and eyes

Whitefellas Spinning Around

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.

When I was a young girl these two whitefellas came to our camp. They brought us a marlu [kangaroo]. We thought they were good men. Later they came back in utes and started spinning around. They must have been drunk and looking for girls. We were really really frightened! Our fathers sent them away and told Mr MacDougall [the patrol officer]. They were not allowed back. We were happy then.

Jean Inyalanka Burke

A painting with a rust brown background depicitng two white trucks with circular tyre marks below them . In the foreground groups of children gathered near shelters look towards the trucks with their arms raised.
Whitefellas Spinning Around, 2012, Jean Inyalanka Burke, acrylic on canvas, 760 x 1510 mm.

When she was a young girl, Burke lived near Mount Davies (Pipalyatjara, South Australia) where Whitefellas Spinning Around is set. Jean recalled that, at the age of 14, she travelled with her family by camel from Warburton, in Western Australia, to Amata, South Australia – a distance of 1253 kilometres.

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.

Burke was born at a waterhole site known as Arnumarapirti, near Irrunytju (Wingellina). As a child she 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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