Jullen Guh and Tankin (Diptych), 2018
Acrylic on canvas
61 x 152 cm
My name is Chern’ee Sutton I am 21 years old and I am a contemporary Indigenous artist from the Kalkadoon people from the Mount Isa area in Queensland. This painting is called “Jullen Guh and Tankin” in my peoples language which means “The kookaburra and the Jabiru”.
Long long ago there lived a Jabiru stork who had the most beautiful voice of all the birds. The other birds would come and admire and listen as the Jabiru would sing to his partner for hours and hours. When he would finish singing his partner would sing back and when she had finished they would walk amongst the other birds and tell them how lucky they were to have each other with their special voices and that they were partners for life. Day after day this continued but not all the birds admired this special pair and the love they had for each other. Jullen Guh the kookaburra who could not sing himself but only clap his beak together to speak was very jealous of the Jabiru and the bond he had with his mate and so he started to think of how he could change things. That night while the Jabiru was fast asleep and the night was dark Jullen Guh crept up and with a swift blow from his beak he cut the voice box from the Jabiru and quickly flew off into the night and ate what he had stolen. The next morning when the Jabiru awoke his legs were covered in dried blood and try as he did it would not come off. Later that day when the Jabiru went to sing to his beautiful partner nothing at all came out except a clapping sound from his large beak. He was embarrassed as all the birds were asking why he wouldn’t sing but he could only answer with a clap of his beak and it was then that all the birds heard a loud laughing that they had not heard before. The Jabiru realised then that his voice box had been stolen and that it was Jullen Guh laughing at him and so he ran off into the bush with his partner. Not one to be beaten the Jabiru thought of how he could again impress his partner and it was then that he thought of a very special dance and so he and his partner practised over and over again. Now they are the best dancers of all the birds and their love for each other is stronger now than it ever was. They still often hear Jullen Guh the kookaburra laughing at them but they clap their beaks to each other and continue to dance as to this day they only dance to each other when no-one else is around and the sun glistens off their red legs.
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