JOURNEY of a Woman’s Strength is not only the title Barbara Mundraby’s latest artwork, but the theme of her life’s enduring work. 

Barbara was commissioned exclusively by international indigenous artistic retailer Mainie- led by artistic director Charmaine Saunders - to produce a piece of work for the recent launch of their new Cairns gallery late last year.

The work reflects Barbara’s ethos; passing on the knowledge, love and strength bestowed to her by her own grandmother. She says her grandmother‘s passing over ten years ago - and the grief and loss of that experience-  created a profound sense of connection to the women in her family and all they had endured.

“My grandmother was from the Stolen Generation. She arrived in Yarrabah in chains.” Barbara said. “She never spoke of it. She learnt to survive, endure. She got strong. And if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t be here teaching my girls their stories.

“Her passing really affected me. Our old people, once they go, their stories live on through us. That was the main inspiration for my artwork. It’s the women who raised you and from that foundation is a mother’s strength.

“Being around my grandmother, mother and aunties, I thought a lot about a women’s strength and where that all came from, through generations of women who have had to endure.

“Even when they do pass away, their journey continues through you, and hopefully gets passed on to your own children.”

Barbara says now that she has raised two girls of her own, she understands more than ever the importance of creating a world where women and girls are valued and loved. 

“For me it all starts and ends with women and with a mother’s love and strength,” she said. “I have two daughters of my own. They’re 26 and 22 now, and I’ve passed on to them the stories of their grandmother and great-grandmother, so they know their foundation and culture and always know where they came from. Hopefully, one day, they can pass it on to their own children.”

“We’ve got such strong women in our family. They just do what they have to do to raise their family and community with little thought to their own pain and suffering.”

Barbara hopes that women everywhere find strength in the message of her paintings, and that they do continue to stay strong throughout life’s hardships and to continue the journey their ancestors started.

“I feel connected to abstract art,” she said.

“I hope women look at my painting and find themselves in there and see something of their own story. I want to teach women that it’s okay to have your down times but to always remember your strength.”

Shared with the permission of Koori Mail

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

By Mahala Strohfeldt