Netta Loogatha, Birrmuyingathi Maali was born in 1942 on Bentick Island and is a member of Mornington Island Art.
“It’s good to make artworks, learn from each other. We learned all about our country and story places from our old people. Now we are painting and drawing them so our grandchildren will learn all about them. Our Aunty Sally Gabori showed us the way, to learn from her and follow in her footsteps.”
We have our own paintings and drawings now of our homelands and sacred places, where we were born, oyster reefs and waterholes or camping spots. I am happy to show other people my country and culture through my art. It brings a smile to my face when I finish an artwork and see a part of me on it.
"I was born on Bentick IsIand at a place on the Northern side called Bilmee. We lived in humpies then - no clothes nothing at aII. I learnt to hunt from an early age, how to fish and collect sheIIfish, how to gather foods from the bush. I was young when the Europeans came in 1946 to take us away from our home and forced us to live on Mornington Island in the dormitory in the mission there.
"My father was King Alfred, he had six wives. When he died, his brother Percy took over the family and took care of us. When I grew up I went to the mainland and worked as a housemaid like a lot of the young girls from the Island. I enjoyed this time being young and having fun. I returned to Mornington and became strongly involved in Land Rights and my people’s wish to return to our homeland. I was a grandmother by the time we returned to our homeland and I use to live there most of the year, onIy returning to Mornington for the wet season. Now I am getting too old to live there. I cry for an opportunity to set my foot on my homeland again. My artworks have become even more important to me to keep my memories of my home and culture ever strong."
Main image credit: Netta Loogatha in the MIArt studio. Image: MIArt