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Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori (c.1924 - 2015)

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori (c.1924 - 2015)

The incomparable Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori (c.1924 - 2015) was a distinguished senior Kaiadilt woman and a contemporary artist of considerable sophistication whose short yet incredible career left an astonishing cultural legacy.

Gabori began to paint in 2005, at around eighty years of age, and was immediately recognised as an artist of breath-taking instinct, unabashed passion and drive. Her signature expressive brushstrokes and vivid use of colour brilliantly portray places on Bentinck Island of deep personal significance to the artist including Dibirdibi, her husband’s Country; Thundi, her father’s Country; Mirdidingki, her own Country; and, the first outstation on Bentinick Island, Nyinyilki.

While abstract in nature, Gabori’s depictions of Country retain representational elements which map the landscapes of Bentinck Island, and Gabori’s own identity, across her monumental canvases. Her indefatigable zeal to communicate her stories, knowledge, and experiences through her painterly interpretations of Country won her great admiration both nationally and internationally and impart a real and intimate sense of who Gabori was and where she was from.

Gabori and her family lived on Bentinck Island in accordance with Kaiadilt custom with minimal interaction or influences from European settlers, until the entire Kaiadilt population migrated to Mornington Island in 1948 following a series of environmental disasters. In the 1980s the Kaiadilt people began to re-establish themselves on their ancestral lands on Bentinck Island, however the Mornington Island community remained the major resource centre for Gabori and her contemporaries.

Following her passing in 2015, Gabori’s tremendous legacy and immense oeuvre were honoured in a major retrospective exhibition 'Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori: Dulka Warngiid – Land of All' at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane and at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

Gabori’s work features in important collections and major institutions in Australia and abroad including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, New Zealand the Musée du Quai Branly, France, the Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art, the Netherlands and the ARTIZON Museum (formerly Bridgestone Museum of Art), Tokyo, Japan, and her works continue to be exhibited in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, USA, South Korea, the Netherlands and Italy.

In 2022 Gabori was honoured with a major solo survey exhibition at the distinguished Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris, France. To coincide with this significant exhibition of paintings, Fondation Cartier, in close collaboration with Gabori’s family and the Kaiadilt community, published a comprehensive Exhibition Catalogue and online archive dedicated to the life and work of the artist, the most exhaustive archive ever compiled on the history of Gabori and the Kaiadilt people. In 2023, the internationally acclaimed survey exhibition shown by the distinguished Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris travelled to Milan, Italy for the prestigious Triennale di Milano.

Gabori continues to be recognised as one of Australia’s most influential and important contemporary artists. A master of composition and colour, ther practice was deeply transformative to the national and international perception and appreciation of Australian landscape painting and Australian First Nations art – her oeuvre forever altering the Australian contemporary art scene.

© The Estate of the Artist and Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne 2024

For an extended CV, please contact Alcaston Gallery at

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