• Georgina Keppel with her painting, Miy Korth - Lily, in the background. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Georgina Keppel started painting as a way of healing after her father passed away. After only two months, her work is on display at one of the country's most prestigious Indigenous art fairs.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

19 Jul 2017 - 8:53 AM  UPDATED 19 Jul 2017 - 2:27 PM

Aurukun artist Georgina Keppel began painting a little over two months ago, in a bid to overcome her grief following her father's death.

"I was caring for my dad but my dad passed away last year before Christmas... and I thought ok I might work at the arts and craft centre," she told NITV News. 

Through her art, she began to heal.

"I feel proud, like for myself and seeing my children feel proud." 

"To me like coming here to the art centre and doing these art works, it changed my life," she says.

"I was like down [before], and now coming here it's like a relief, like takes my mind off everything and [I] just concentrate on working and doing my art."

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To Georgina's great surprise, she quickly discovered she had a talent for painting.

"I used to see my children drawing and doing art work and I said I don't know where they got this from, but I didn't know they maybe got it from me!," she laughs. 

Now, Georgina's paintings are on display at an exhibition at the prestigious Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

Titled 'Ngan Aurukun Wanch Aak Puul Ngantan Yumpenan (We are Aurukun women making the stories of our country)', the exhibition features 12 artworks including paintings by senior artist Jean Walmbeng and emerging artists Bettina Pootchemunka, Flora Woolla, Georgina Keppel, Francesca Walmbeng and Sheryl Panulkan.

Georgina's work is inspired by her upbringing on the outskirts of Coen in far north Queensland, and by her late mother, who was also an artist.

Her painting, Miy Korth - Lily, depicts a memory of water lilies from her childhood when she holidayed at Meripah Station where her father worked.

"Every school holidays I used to swim in these lagoons and collect lilies," she recalls.

"And the root of it, it's round, and we collect them and dry them out on the sun and we cook them in the hot ashes and then we eat them."

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The emerging artist is still coming to terms with what she calls "hitting the jackpot".

She hopes her experience will encourage others in Aurukun to explore where their own artistic abilities might take them.

"I feel proud, like for myself and seeing my children feel proud," she says.

"And the community can see that if I can change, everyone can change." 

The exhibition runs from July 13 to August 5 at KickArts, as part of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) satellite program.