Queenie McKenzie

Queenie McKenzie

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DOB: c.1910 - 16 Nov 1998
Born: Old Texas Station, East Kimberley, WA
REGION: Kimberley, Western Australia

Born around 1910 on Texas Downs as the daughter of a Malgin/Guridji woman and a white man, she was given the bush name 'Garagarag', which has a similar meaning to 'Blondie'. She was raised on Red Butte Country adjacent to, and later included in the Texas Downs pastoral lease. As a young girl, she worked on Texas Station learning to cook. Later on, she learned how to stock camps, as well as tending and riding the horses.

That's where she met her long-term friend Rover Thomas and worked with him on Texas Downs station in the early years of their working lives. On one occasion she even saved Rover's life in 1954, when he had fallen from a moving horse and had lost the top of his scalp. Queenie had sewn his scalp back on so well that doctors were amazed that a novice was so skilled. Later Queenie used the story as a subject for some of her paintings.

In the 1970's, Queenie McKenzie and her husband moved to the settlement at Warmun. Queenie did not have children of her own, but helped raise other children whose mothers were unable to look after them. A strong member of the Warmun community, McKenzie was a councillor and taught Gija language at the school. She had always taken an active part in the ceremonial life, being both a good singer and dancer. Queenie was a stalwart supporter of 'women's law business' and language.

Inspired by Rover Thomas, Queenie took up painting in her later years, using the knowledge she has amassed by watching the older artists paint their traditional stories. Like him, she liked to use natural pigments she made from ochres that she dug from the ground.

She remained very active and continued painting to the last day of her life.


  • Australian National University, Canberra
  • Hank Ebes Collection, Melbourne
  • Kaplan and Levi Collection, Seattle
  • Holmes a Court Collection, Perth
  • Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
  • National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
  • Shepparton Art Museum, Shepparton VIC
  • Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
  • Fondation Burkhardt-Felder Arts et Culture, Moitiers, Switzerland

Awards and Recognition

2000 Top 50 Collectable Artists, Australian Art Collector Magazine

1998 State Living Treasures Award, Government of Western Australia: For Queenie's unique contribution to the arts and culture and the teaching of the Gija language.

1997 Queenie was honoured by being chosen, with eight other Australian artists, to create prints to commemorate the Olympic Games in Sydney


Selected Solo Exhibitions

2019 Dazzling Diamonds, Art Mob, Hobart

Selected Group Exhibitions

2021 Rover Thomas and Kimberley Ochre Painters, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle
2021 Of the Land, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2021 We Choose to Challenge, Coo-ee Fine Art Gallery, Sydney
2020 From Little Things Big Things Grow, Kluge-Ruhe Collection, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA
2020 Top 20 Exhibition, Art Mob, Hobart
2019 International Women's Day, Kate Owen Gallery, Sydney
2019 Grounded in Truth: Walk Together with Courage Reconciliation Week, Art Mob, Hobart
2010 Desert Country, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
2000 Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide
1999 Myer Gantner Collection, USA
1999 Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, USA
1997 Songlines Art Gallery, San Francisco, USA
1996, 1997 William Mora Gallery, Melbourne
1994, 1998 Old Parliament House, Canberra
1994 1996 Fremantle Arts Centre, Western Australia
1992, 1994, 1996, 1997 National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
1991, 1992, 1993 1998 Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory, Darwin
1991 Art Gallery of New South Wales (touring)