Kunyi June Anne McInerney

25 September - 25 October 2020
Cathleen Edkins Gallery

For this exhibition Kunyi June Anne McInerney draws upon her childhood experiences as a member of the Stolen Generation growing up in the Oodnadatta Children’s Home during the 1950’s.

Kunyi’s vibrant use of colour, facial expression and depiction of landscape document her memories and reflect on the strict life she had alongside other mission kids who became her only family. Her paintings and stories have now been collated by curator Maggie Fletcher, and have been published into a book.

“These are my stories from a dry, remote place where my experiences were so different from what Australian children know today. I want to tell my story, so they don’t ever do it again. They took away my family, my culture and who I could have been. These are not fairy tales, they are true. I want people to understand what happened. Painting is the best way for me to tell my stories,”

– Kunyi June Anne McInerney

Kunyi was taken from her mother Daisy McInerney, a Yankunytjatjara woman and placed in the Oodnadatta Children’s Home at four years old (1955). She was one of many Aboriginal children removed from their families between the 1900s and 1960s to be brought up in institutions or white foster families. Kunyi has used painting as a means of reconciling her past and to share her stories so people can understand what happened to her and so many others.

An honest and sensitive exploration of this time in her life, My Paintings Speak for Me touches on themes of separation from family, loss of culture and struggle, all the while finding moments of joy in the hardship with other children in the Mission Home.

Kunyi’s work is held in public and private collections in Australia, United States and Europe, including Queensland Art Gallery, Flinders University Art Museums, Brisbane City Council and the SA Migration Museum.

This is a Country Arts SA touring exhibition.

Image: Kunyi June Anne McInerney, Mission Buildings with Dining Area, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 61×91 cm. On loan from the Migration Museum, a division of the History Trust of South Australia, image courtesy of the artist.

Kunyi June Anne McInerney: My Paintings Speak for Me from Country Arts SA on Vimeo.

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We acknowledge the Boandik Peoples as the traditional custodians of the land we meet on today. We respect their spiritual relationship with the land and recognise the deep feelings of attachment our First Nations Peoples have with the land.

Image: Belinda Bonney, Reconciliation of the Nation: we all walk together as one (detail)