Charlene Carrington’s subject is her dad, Churchill Cann. ‘Dad was a stockman working on Texas Country on the Queensland/NSW border, where he was born. He started painting when he moved to Warmun, painting with Gija elders Rover Thomas, Queenie McKenzie and George Mung Mung. They taught me how to paint and taught me stories of this Country. I always listened, and always paint the stories,’ she says.
‘In the painting, that brown hill, his hat, is Red Butte. That’s a good fishing place and where the old people used to hang out. That yellow part of his hat is the sandy ground around Red Butte, the buttons are the Texas rock holes. When we were young we used to walk up there and go swimming. It’s real clear, like a big pool. The moon on his neck is the necklace I gave him that he always wore.
‘I used to draw in school and learned how to draw faces, but it’s pretty hard with ochre. I think this will be the last portrait I do, I wanted to paint one of Dad.’
Born in Perth in 1977, Carrington has recently been an Aboriginal teaching assistant at Purnululu School. This is her first time in the Archibald Prize. Her portrait of Cann is now in the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW.