Queenie McKenzie

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Queenie McKenzie
Photo of Queenie McKenzie.jpg

circa 1915 (1915)
Old Texas Station, East Kimberley, Western Australia, Australia
Died16 November 1998 (aged 82–83)
Warmun (Turkey Creek), East Kimberley, Western Australia, Australia
Other namesGaragarag, Mingmarriya, Queenie Nakarra, Gara-garag
Known forPainting, Contemporary Indigenous Australian art

Queenie McKenzie (Nakarra) [formerly Oakes, or Mingmarriya] (c. 1915 – 1998) was a contemporary Indigenous Australian artist. She was born on Old Texas Station, on the western bank of the Ord River in the East Kimberley.[1]

Early life[edit]

Queenie McKenzie's mother was Malngin/Gurindji and her father was a white horse-breaker.[2]

Under the existing policy during the time of her youth, Queenie was at risk of removal by the government to an orphanage—as was the fate of many aboriginal children with mixed parentage at the time (see Stolen Generations). Queenie's mother, however, managed to prevent the displacement of her child by reportedly blackening her skin with charcoal, and the young girl grew up working for the stockmen of the cattle station at Texas Downs.[3]

Queenie McKenzie lived her entire life in the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley, knew the landscape intimately, and is quoted as saying: "Every rock, every hill, every water, I know that place backwards and forwards, up and down, inside out. It's my country and I got names for every place."[1] McKenzie took two Aboriginal names, once stating, "my name been grow up from these hills". Mingmarriya references the country near Dingo Springs on Texas Downs Station East of Warmun (Turkey creek), Western Australia where the artist lived and painted.


Queenie McKenzie benefited from the Waringarri Aboriginal Arts Corporation In 1993, Former Arts Minister Peter Foss stated about the organization, "This organisation is doing an enormous amount to ensure that Aboriginal art is respected in terms of copyright and moral rights, and that Aboriginal artists are recompensed properly for their work".[4]

Major collections[edit]

Commercial success[edit]

Queenie McKenzie's art remains among Australia's most collectible.[1] Her works have sold at auction for $8000 to $15000.[6] McKenzie has also been consistently included within The Australian Indigenous Art Market top 100 index, ranking 21st in 2014.[7]


Throughout the final years of Queenie's life, the artist exhibited concern for the cultural future of her community, and wished for the Texas Downs station (see List of pastoral leases in Western Australia) to be returned to the Texas Mob. Though Queenie died before witnessing her wishes manifest, Queenie's importance has been recognized by the government of Western Australia, which declared her as a "State Living Treasure" the year of her death.[8]

Queenie was included in the Moorditj-Australian Indigenous Cultural Expressions CD ROM, along with other Western Australian artists Jack Davis, Alma Toomath, Betty Egan, Michele Broun, the Pigram Brothers, Footprince, Wayne Barker, Sally Morgan, Jimmy Chi and Mary Pantjiti McLean.[9]

In Western Australia, all pastoral land leases are up for renewal or surrender in 2015, including the Texas Downs station.[10]

Queenie was cited as an important influence on the work of the Australian ceramic artist Pippin Drysdale.[11]


  1. ^ "Queenie McKenzie Nakarra - East Kimberley Artist". Aboriginal Art Online.
  2. ^ "Profile". www.aiam100.com. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  3. ^ Klener, Jeanne. "Level of arts activity in Kimberley region impressive". www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  4. ^ "The Holmes à Court Collection". Holmes à Court Gallery. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  5. ^ "3 June 2008 Joel – Aboriginal Art". Auction results. Australian Art Collector. 3 June 2008. Archived from the original on 29 September 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  6. ^ "Career Results up to 2014". www.aiam100.com. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  7. ^ Morris, Chris. "State Living Treasures' publication honouring WA artists unveiled". www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  8. ^ Morris, Chris. "Launch of program focusing on indigenous arts & culture on CD-ROM". Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  9. ^ List of pastoral leases in Western Australia
  10. ^ Snell, Ted. "Artist Statement" (PDF). Pippin Drysdale official site. P Drysdale. Retrieved 20 October 2018.

External links[edit]