Aboriginal artist, Queenie McKenzie had a relatively short artistic career as she did not begin to paint until the late 1980’s after encouragement from her friend, Rover Thomas, one of Australia’s most well known Aboriginal artists.
Queenie was born at Old Texas Downs on the Ord River to a Malngin/Gurindji Aboriginal mother and white horsebreaker father. Being half-caste her mother had to disguise her fairness on several occassions by covering her with charcoal, in order to prevent her being taken away from her people and brought up in a mission, under the Australian government’s assimilationist policy of the time.
She worked as a cook on cattle stations for almost 40 years until 1973 when she settled in Turkey Creek (Warmun). She was a strong member of the Warmun community; a Councillor and teacher of the Gija language and also played a significant role in the reclaiming of traditional land in the region. She was heavily committed to ceremonial life.
Her painting followed Rover Thomas’ style, mapping country in natural ochers, blending landscape with witnessed or remembered events, family anecdotes and mythological information. Her landscapes are very distinctive, particularlry her rendition of the Kimberleys. She used dots to delineate her simple forms, not as a form of intuitive primitivism, but as a link to the traditional work of the Turkey Creek movement.
She became an active printmaker after producing her first prints in 1995 in collaboration with printmaker Theo Tremblay. Her work has been widely exhibited since 1991. It was included in the exhibitions ‘Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art’ at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1992, and she also had a solo exhibition in Melbourne in 1997.
Subject & Themes
Texas Down Station, Bungle Bungle country.
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
Berndt Museum of Anthropology, University of Western Australia.
Edith Cowan University Collection Perth WA.
Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide.
Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth.
Myer Gatner Collection, USA.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Robert Holmes a Court Collection.
Thomas Vroom Collection, The Netherlands.
1991 Aboriginal Women Painters, Art Gallery of NSW [touring].
1991 The Eighth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1991 Aboriginal Women’s Exhibition, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
1992 The Ninth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1993 Images of Power, Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
1993 The Tenth National Aboriginal Art Award Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1994 Australian Heritage Commission National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award Exhibition, Old Parliament House, Canberra.
1994 Bush Women, Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth, Western Australia.
1994 Power of the Land, Masterpieces of Aboriginal Art, National Gallery of Victoria.
1995 Paintings by Warmun Women, Australian Girls Own Gallery, Kingston, ACT.
1996 Abstraction: Signs, Marks, Symbols National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne.
1996 Figures in the Land, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
1996 Printabout Artback NT.
1996 Fremantle Print Award, Fremantle Art Centre.
1997 Imaging the Land National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
1997 Solo Exhibition, William Mora Gallery, Melbourne.
1997 Contemporary Australian Aboriginal Paintings, Songlines Aboriginal Art Gallery, Amsterdam, San Francisco.
1998 15th NATSI Art Award Museum & Art Galleries of NT, Darwin.
1998 4th National Indigenous heritage Art Award, Old Parliament House, Canberra.
1999 Myer Gatner Collection, USA.
2000 From appropriation to Appreciation: Indigenous influences and images in Australian Visual Art. Flinders University Art Museum Adelaide.
Artlink, Australian Contemporary Art Quarterly Vol20 2000.
Claiming Title, Australian Aboriginal Artists & their Land cat. Carelton College, Minnesota USA
Dixon, R.A., & Dillon, M.C., 1990, Aborigines and Diamond Mining: The Politics of Resource Development in the East Kimberley Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands, Western Australia.
Isaacs J.1999 Spirit Country Hardie Grant Books, Fine Arts Museum.
McCullough,S.1998 Pretty pictures tell stories (TheAustralian Nov 18 P4 tribute).
McCulloch S, Contemporary Aboriginal Art: A Guide to the Rebirth of An Ancient Culture. Allen & Unwin 1999.
Reconciliation? Indigenous art for the 21st Century’Edited by Murray L.& Drury N. Australian Painting Now. Craftsman House 2000.
Ryan, J., 1993, Images of Power, Aboriginal Art of the Kimberley, exhib, cat., National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
1991, Aboriginal Women’s Exhibition, exhib. cat., Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
1994, Bush Women, exhib. cat., Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth, Western Australia.