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Sue Pascoe (1935 - 2022)
Sue Pascoe was a traditional Aboriginal woman from the language group of
Kuku Ya’u. Her ancestors came from Pascoe River and Night Island. She had profound
ecological knowledge and ceremonial responsibilities as an important Elder of Lockhart River.
Since mid-2000, she was part of the Lockhart River Arts Indigenous Corporation whose trade
mark is ‘ART GANG’, and was fondly known as one of “The Old Girls.” She led an exceptional
life having experienced bombing by the Japanese during WWII. She lived on a mission before
her community gained Land Rights, raised children and grandchildren, and had various
occupations from that of a crocodile hunter to being an esteemed artist.
Sue created bold paintings that express a rich cultural iconography. Her painting Kapi tells
the story of a ceremonial gathering around a kapi, a waterhole. During ceremonies, women
perform inherited totemic dances, and others act out the narratives of songs. Participants in
these ceremonies are painted with natural ochres in varying designs which transform the
dancers and provide protection against recognition by spirits. The ceremonies re-animate the
land, ensure perpetuation of plant and animal species, and ensure people's health and
happiness. Over many days and nights around blazing campfires, the people sing the songs of
their country, paint their bodies with ochre designs, perform ritual dances, and tell their
ancestral stories to new generations.
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