Tjawan Ritjinguthinha, 2018
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 120 cm
My name is Chern’ee Sutton and I am a contemporary Indigenous artist and my heritage lies with the Kalkadoon people from the Mount Isa area in Queensland. Tjawan Ritjinguthinha is the name of this painting which means “Frog Dreaming” in the Kalkadoon language and this is my interpretation of her story.
Long, long ago there was an enormous frog named Tjawan who was the best singer of all the animals. She would sing for hours to all the other animals who were entranced by her songs. After many years of drought and many, many animals dying through the lack of water the animals held a meeting and asked Tjawan to create a new song that would bring them rain from the sky above and save them. Day after day Tjawan sang many different songs but still there was no rain, she felt that she was letting all the animals down. While Tjawan was asleep that night the rain spirit came to her in a dream and told Tjawan that she must come up with a new song but not start singing her song until she could see Kurrikurri Marrpu – Red Cockatoo who would be her signal to start singing for rain.
The next day Tjawan thought of a new song and then waited and waited until she finally saw Red Cockatoo flying high above and she knew that this was her signal to start singing. Tjawan began to sing her new song and continued for hours until the rain spirit who had been watching and listening to Tjawan could see her perseverance and was so entranced by her new song and the love she had for the other animals that she began to cry. Tjawan after feeling the first few drops of rain realised that she had found the right song at last and continued to sing louder and louder and as she did this the rain grew heavier until all the rivers and waterholes were full once again. The other animals were so pleased and grateful to have new life and all knew they had chosen wisely to ask Tjawan to sing her songs. Upon seeing the gratitude that Tjawan had received the rain spirit made Tjawan the guardian of the water. To this day through her songs Tjawan is the bringer of rain, life and cleansing and now starts her early life in water, she also has a different song for each season of the year.
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