In Profile: Heather Koowortha, Wik and Kugu Arts Centre

Heather is a Traditional Owner for both the Cairns region (Grandfather’s Country who has the spotted stingray totem), and the Southern Wik Lands/Coen region, who are Wik-Mungkan speakers. She is a highly skilled arts studio facilitator and a master painter.

Heather has spent most of her life living around Cairns and Yarrabah, as well as a significant amount of time living in Aurukun where she learnt from her old people the skills of visual arts that she carries on today. Heather is currently employed as an artsworker in Aurukun where she is reconnecting with her Wik heritage, and learning more of her ancestral language Wik-Mungkan.

These images show Heather in the process of preparing ochres that were collected on country. The Wik-Mungkan language name for this white ochre is “pip morp”. The ochres are crushed to produce a fine natural earth pigment. The pigments will be used for painting and sculptural works. Heather is reconnecting with these heritage practices that belong to her ancestral ties to Aurukun families.

Main image credit: Heather Koowortha in the studio. Image: Wik and Kugu Arts Centre

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IACA programs and events receive financial assistance from the Queensland Government through the Arts Queensland Backing Indigenous Arts initiative, from the Federal Government’s Ministry for the Arts through the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program, the Australia Council for the Arts and Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund - an Australian Government initiative. IACA supports the Indigenous Art Code.

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