Our Painting Speaks for Us


Kunyi and Yaritji McInerney

Since the dispossession and dispersal of Aboriginal people, traumatic impacts have been felt not only by past generations with direct, traumatic experience but they have also been passed down to subsequent generations through various psychological, physiological and social processes.

A historical and emotional legacy of shame, loss and desolation is precipitating many of the problems facing Aboriginal communities today. Through this series of drawings, I have reflected on this concept of intergenerational transmission of historic trauma. The designs merge together physiological elements such as DNA strands and finger prints with traditional cultural symbols and marks.

Established South Australian artist Kunyi McInerney returns to Tandanya once again, this time with her daughter Yaritji with new paintings inspired by moving stories of family; being stolen and finding love and compassion in the subjects they playfully interpret.


June-Anne, named Kunyi by her family, was born at Todmorton station, SA. At the age of 4, Kunyi along with her sister and two brothers was placed in Oodnadatta Children’s Mission Home. Upon entry to the home, the missionaries renamed her Anne, but her Mother still called her Kunyi.

At the age of 8, Kunyi was fostered out in Adelaide where she was renamed June. Kunyi now lives in Adelaide with her three children.

“Kunyi’s works portray a landscape remembered from childhood, paintings of family and friends, depiction of remembered experiences expressing a strong feeling for her people and environment. Her sensitive use of colour, facial expression and depiction of environment rendered in oil on artist’s childhood experiences in the early 50’s onwards. Other works depict painful experiences after removal from the land where she had been born and express the emotional impact when missionaries and foster parents were not always kind.”- Vanessa Fisher (Aboriginal Art Curator, Brisbane, Queensland).

Kunyi graduated from University of SA in 1995, (BA Aboriginal Studies).

Kunyi and Yaritji McInerney

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