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  • Aboriginal Art - Gwenneth Blitner, Water Lillies, 60x45cm - Art Ark
  • Aboriginal Art - Gwenneth Blitner, Water Lillies, 60x45cm - Art Ark
  • Aboriginal Art - Gwenneth Blitner, Water Lillies, 60x45cm - Art Ark
  • Aboriginal Art - Gwenneth Blitner, Water Lillies, 60x45cm - Art Ark
  • Aboriginal Art - Gwenneth Blitner, Water Lillies, 60x45cm - Art Ark
Aboriginal Art - Gwenneth Blitner, Water Lillies, 60x45cm - Art Ark
Aboriginal Art - Gwenneth Blitner, Water Lillies, 60x45cm - Art Ark
Aboriginal Art - Gwenneth Blitner, Water Lillies, 60x45cm - Art Ark
Aboriginal Art - Gwenneth Blitner, Water Lillies, 60x45cm - Art Ark
Aboriginal Art - Gwenneth Blitner, Water Lillies, 60x45cm - Art Ark

Gwenneth Blitner, Water Lillies, 60x45cm

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  • Artist - Gwenneth Blitner
  • Community - Ngukurr
  • Art Centre/Community organisation - Ngukurr Arts Aboriginal Corporation
  • Catalogue number - 356/18
  • Materials - Acrylic on canvas 
  • Size(cm) - H45 W60 D2  
  • Postage variants - Artwork posted un-stretched and rolled for safe shipping
  • Orientation - As displayed

Water Lillies in my country

Beneath the bright colours and detailed markings of Gwenneth Blitner’s magical bush landscapes lies a deep connection to country often tinged with longing, fear and loss.

Gwenneth is one of a new generation of artists emerging from the strong painting tradition at Ngukurr Arts, located on the banks of the Roper River in South East Arnhem Land.

She uses vibrant colours and bold strokes to capture the local landscape, especially the hills, flowers, animals and billabongs surrounding the small community of Ngukurr.

Like Gertie Huddleston and Maureen Thompson, women painters from Ngukurr who came before her, Gwenneth’s paintings are rich, detailed tapestries of luminous acrylic paint on canvas.

‘I paint my country because it’s a magical place,’ she says. ‘It is full of life. You can get every type of bush food. You can go fishing and hunting, and you can collect fruit and seeds to eat.’

Before she starts painting Gwenneth closes her eyes, conjures a picture in her mind’s eye, then uses soft pinks, vivid greens and flashes of gold to depict how beautiful and alive her country is.

‘I want to show everyone how special this place is, how our people use the land to stay strong and healthy using bush medicine and eating bush food,’ she says.

But Gwenneth, who only started painting in 2012, isn’t just capturing beauty and abundance. There is often loss, sorrow and danger lurking in the shadows of her radiant works.

‘Painting my country connects me to the spirit of my old people, which is a good thing, but it also makes me think of what we have lost, and that makes me feel sad too,’ she says.

‘The bush can be a scary place too. There are always things hiding in the grass, like snakes, and sometimes buffalo chase us, so you have to watch out and keep your eyes open.’

One of her recent works, a brilliant riot of pretty purples, sunny yellows and hot pinks, is titled ‘Ngukurr Cemetery’ and depicts the local community graveyard.

‘The cemetery is full of bright plastic flowers. It’s one of the most colourful places in Ngukurr,’ Gwenneth says. ‘It’s very pretty, but it’s also one of the saddest places in our community.’

Born on the old Roper River Mission in 1958 and educated at the Bush School, Gwenneth learned to paint watching her brother’s Glen and Donald.

‘I worked in the local Council office for many years but I was always thinking I’d like to paint, and one day I just came down to the Art Centre and started doing it,’ she says.

‘Painting is important to my family because it’s about telling stories and I’m doing it now so my kids and grandkids can learn from me and so I can share my stories.’

Text: Courtesy Ngukurr Arts Aboriginal Corporation, words by Dion Teasdale

Ngukurr Arts Centre sits a stone’s throw from the banks of the Roper River in South East Arnhem Land. Ngukurr Arts, like the town of Ngukurr itself, is unique – bringing together people of many different clans and language groups.

There has never been one distinct school or style associated with Ngukurr Arts but what is typical of the work is boldness – the legacy of artists who have gone before, such as Ginger Riley, Gertie Huddlestone, Sambo Barra Barra and Maureen Thomson. Over time, Ngukurr artists have become renowned for their adventurous styles in interpreting stories and landscapes.

Today, artists are supported to explore new techniques. Each artist recontextualises the technique in relation to their own country and culture, to create works that are wholly unique.

In this place of many stones diversity is a strength. Many artists of different influences work alongside each other balancing the old and the new, passing on the stories that link us all.

Text: Courtesy Ngukurr Arts Aboriginal Corporation