Susannah Nakamarra Nelson

Artist Susannah Nakamarra Nelson
Title Corroboree
Year 2021

Synthetic polymer on canvas

Dimensions 61 × 91 cm
Art Centre Artists of the Barkly →

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Susannah Nakamarra Nelson

Susannah Nakamarra Nelson was born on her homeland of Ngappgunpa near Banka Banka Station, 100 kilometres north of Tennant Creek. She spent her early childhood on Warlmanpa Country and Banka Banka Station, learning Warlmanpa language from her mother and Warlpiri from her grandfather. When she reached school age her mother took her to Mparntwe (Alice Springs) to attend kindergarten at The Bungalow, a small mission school on the outskirts of town. It was here that Susannah first began painting. Her teacher, Pastor Long, gave the children posters depicting Christian scenes where they filled in the illustrations while learning the story of the Bible. Here began Susannah’s love of painting, fascination with God’s story, and the stylistic influence that would reappear in her paintings decades later.

Susannah’s paintings are influenced by the combination of her religious upbringing and her connection to traditional Aboriginal culture. Using both Aboriginal and Christian faith imagery, Susannah creates flat narrative works in bold blocks of colour. Her distinctive style has had a significant influence on the Tartukula Artists of Tennant Creek, the collective which she helped to found and with whom she painted. The Tartukula artists share a visual language that holds strong parallels with a naive style through its playful use of figures and colour.

Susannah’s art played an important role in her spirituality and she would attend the Australian Indigenous Ministries church in Tennant Creek several days a week for services and prayer meetings. She would take takes religious paintings to church for sharing with the congregation and the work was prayed over and sung out to the congregation.

Artist statement

This one I’m making, a corroboree one. women dancing and the men dancing. And they’re singing.