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Marie Mudgedell

Warlayirti Artists (Balgo)

Marie is the oldest daughter of artist Mati (Bridget) Mudgedell (c.1935-2002). She was born at Sturt Creek Station and later moved to Ruby Plains with her family. Her mother’s country was near Yagga Yagga, Ngarti people’s country. Her father was from Sturt Creek, a place called Killi Killi. Marie left her family to attend the school at Old Balgo Mission. When she finished her schooling, she worked in the laundry of Billiluna Station where she met her husband, fellow artist Patrick (Jupiter) Smith, with whom she moved to Balgo so they could put their children through school. Marie comes from a large painting family, her brother Brian and sister Patsy are also accomplished painters.

It was at Balgo that Marie started painting her Tjukurrpa (creation stories and lore) and the Country around Purkitji. Marie has been involved with the local school’s Wakala Language Centre producing Tjukurrpa stories for the children in traditional language. She is a Church leader and strong law woman: she takes the young girls through ceremony; is a respected storyteller and is knowledgeable about bush medicines. Marie paints Yawulyu – an annual women’s ceremony and gathering which is a creation story from a long time ago. It is a special women’s ceremony where many women come together from all different tribes and language groups to share their songs and dance. Marie also paints about the traditional birthing process, and the rituals and joy surrounding new life. The bush baby story is about the proper way babies are traditionally born. Women of the right skin set up camp while the men are not to enter, the men have their own ceremony away from the women. The women with the wrong skin sit between the two camps and look after the children. Birth is sacred. This is how Marie was born and she has witnessed and participated in many of these sacred ceremonies.

Marie is a highly talented linguist in both Ngardi and Kukatja languages. Marie is one of the last speakers of Ngarti, she and her husband are working on a Ngardi dictionary to ensure the language is not forgotten.