This painting is about my Mother’s Country on Bentinck Island. It’s called Mirdidingki and is on the south side of the Island. She carries the name Mirdidingkingathi meaning she’s from here, and Juwarnda is her birth sign meaning dolphin. It was her Mother’s Country and was handed down to her as her brothers had their own Country. This is her Country where the big lake is, where water lily bulbs, watercress, and swamp turtles were gathered just after the wet season and here too the small creek is, where traditionally her people would come to feast on mud mussels and dam the fish during the winter months. Mud shells are known as karnjirrdi in our Kayardild language. Mirdidingki is the place where traditionally our People would come together and gather mud mussels. There’s lots of story places around here. When the tide comes in the shells can move over the mud. We collect them and cook them on the coals and they are good eating. When babies get coughs or colds we feed them these and they are real good for upset tummies as well.
I will always paint her Country, because I know it was everything to her. She always had a lost look about her, like sadness and loneliness when speaking about Country. I will also show her character and love of life and family because that’s how I see her and her Country.
Amanda Jane Gabori
Main image credit: Amanda Jane Gabori, Mud Shells on My Mother’s Country, Acrylic on Belgian linen, 197.5 x 197.5cm. Image: MI Art