Susie Bootja Bootja is an Aboriginal artist from Balgo Hills in the Northern Territory of Australia. Susie Bootja Bootja is a vibrant and colourful personality who is respected for her knowledge of the law and ceremony of Kurtal (fresh water spring in WA). She tells stories about playing at the waterhole of Kangingarra (northern reaches of the Canning Stock Route) where she spent her youth. Susie walked in from the desert as a teenager to Tjumundora, one of the early mission sites.
When Susie moved to the old mission at Balgo Hills, she worked in the kitchen making bread and helping serve food to the dormitory children. There she met her first husband and had her first child, Lucy. Her husband was killed on a mustering trip due to intertribal conflict and left her a widow. Later she eloped with Mick Gill and had another six children and they remain a devoted couple today.
Susie was one of the first women painters and is well known for her initial dual use of western and traditional representations of country (hills, trees, snakes) along with lively use of bright greens, pinks and sky blues. Her innovative dotted colour fields began in 1996, and she continues to develop her style each year. Her eldest son, Matthew Gill, with Sister Alice Dempsey from the St John’s Adult Education Centre, started up the Art Centre in Balgo in 1985.
Since then Susie Bootja Bootja has produced a profusion of paintings that are filled with her exuberant personality and her joy for life. She has travelled widely with her art, including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin and Kununurra. Susie also prides herself on her ability to sing both in English and Kukatja, as well as her ceremonial dancing. She is also a keen and knowledgeable hunter.
Subject & Themes
Tjunda- bush onions; Tjirrilpattja- bush carrot; Wanayarra- rainbow snake and eggs; Water and rain dreaming; Waterholes of Kurtal country; Tartjalpa snake.
Collection Araluen Centre.
Flinders University Art Museum Collection
The Holmes a Court Collection.
Kelton Collection, USA.
Kluge-Ruhe Collection, USA.
Ganter Myer Collection.
2002, Raft Artspace, Darwin
2002 Balgo, Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth
2002 Art from Balgo, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
2002 Womens Exhibition, Parliament House, Melbourne
2002 Lagamanu- An artist’s survey , Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
2001 Short on Size, Short St. Gallery, Broome
2001 18th NATI Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of NT, Darwin
2001 Kutjungka, Bett Gallery, Hobart
2001 Balgo Works, Staedtische Gallery, Wolsfburg, Germany
2001 New Paintings from Balgo, Cutliffe Gallery, Sydney
2001 Past Modern: an exhibition of Kimberley Landscapes, Short Street Gallery in conjunction with Australia Square, Sydney
2000 Outlandish Dreams II, john Ruskin House, UK in association with Arts Network International
2000 The Westside: Images in Ochre and Colour, Coo-ee II Exhibiting Gallery, Yuwayi Art Precinct, World Square, Sydney
2000 Olympic Exhibition, Coo-ee Exhibiting Gallery, Yuwayi Art Precinct, World Square, Sydney
2000 Desert Mob 2000, Araluen Art Gallery, Alice Springs
2000 Lagamanu, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
2000 17th National ATSI Art Awards, Museum Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
2000 Melbourne Artfair 2000, Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne
2000 Waltja – Family, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
2000 Balgo: Selected Recent Works, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne
2000 Balgo Art, Gondwana Gallery, Alice Springs
2000 Lagamanu Aboriginal Paintings, Bett Gallery, Hobart
2000 Dreaming in Colour: Australian Aboriginal Art from Balgo, Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, Virginia, USA
1999 Aboriginal Art, IHK, Wurzburg, Germany
1999 16th National ATSI Art Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
1999 Desert Mob ’99, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs
1999 Mularrpa (True) Balgo, Framed, the Gallery, Darwin
1999 Miliynyin, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
1999 Miliynyin, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
1998 Painting Country, Pearlers Row Gallery, Broome
1998 15th National ATSI Art Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
1998 Ngurrara: My Own Country, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
1998 The Laverty Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
1997 Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
1997 New Paintings from Balgo Artists, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
1997 Big Balgos: Recent Paintings by Warlayirti Artists, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
1997 New Paintings by Balgo Women, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
1997 Dreamings, Arnhem, The Netherlands
1997 Daughters of the Dreaming: Sisters Together Strong, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
1997 Desert Country, Matso’s, Broome
1996 Songlines XV: Lagamanu, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London, UK
1995 Landscape as Language: Australian Perspectives, Fine Art Gallery, Brisbane
1994 Desert Spirit Paintings, Channing Gallery, Santa Fe, USA
1993 Aboriginal Art Exhibition: Kung Guunga, Oasis Gallery, Broadbeach
1991 Paintings from Kukatja Country, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, Yapa Peintres Aborigenes de Balgo et Lagamanu, Baudoin Lebon Gallery, Paris, France
1991 Warlayirti Artists from Lagamanu WA, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
1990 Recent Balgo Paintings, Dreamtime Gallery, Perth
1990 Paintings from Kukatja Country, Deustcher Gallery, Melbourne
1990 Contemporary Aboriginal Art from the Robert Holmes a Court Collection, touring exhibition, US
1989 Warlayirti Artists: Continuing Links with Land, Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Paddington NSW
1989 Recent Paintings from Balgo, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
1989 Balgo Painting, Dreamtime Gallery, Perth
1989 Winner of Telstra Open Painting Award, 15th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.
1999, Cowan, J, Balgo New Directions, Craftsman House, Sydney, in association with G+B Arts International Limited
1994, Cowan, J., Wirrimanu, Craftsman House, Sydney, in association with G+B Arts International Limited.
1994, Johnson, V., The Dictionary of Western Desert Artists, Craftsman House, East Roseville NSW.
1994, Dream Journeys Calendar, image reproduction.
1993, Caruana, W., Aboriginal Art, Thames and Hudson, London, UK.
1991, Glowczewski, B., Yapa Peintres Aborigenes de Balgo et Lajamanu, Lebon Gallery, Paris, France.
(n.d.) Aboriginal Artists of Western Australia, folios of works and biographies, Aboriginal Education Resources Unit, Western Australia.