Joanne Currie Nalingu was born and spent her childhood on the banks of the Maranoa River at the Yumba mission. By the age of 16 she had left the community, and she and partner Patrick have made a life for themselves and their children away from family pressures. Alcohol problems have plagued Currie’s family, leaving her a staunch anti-drinker. Her awareness of the issues that indigenous Australians seem incapable of escaping have informed the political stance of much of her earlier series and these two elements – both bold political statement and the lyrical river paintings which explore her childhood memories of the river.
Currie’s series “Blood River Black Water” draws on her interest in the traditional shield designs from the Maranoa River region that belong to her Mandandanyi people. These designs are used to background her characteristic painted river landscapes, and are layered further with text in her Gungari language.
The growing complexity in Currie’s work, its strong political resonance, and its developing conceptual depth bode well for this self-taught artist, who was a finalist in the 2011 Sulman Award at the Art Gallery of New South Wales with one of her new media works.