Uncle Noel has been an artist since he was a child: “I started drawing when I was quite young; drawing was good when I couldn’t afford to buy paint! When I grew older I started working with the older people. They were carving walking sticks, spears, boomerangs, woomeras. I’ve always tried to keep my culture. Doing art is part of that. Growing up at Cherbourg the old people used to try and keep culture strong; my grandma used to take me out hunting, fishing, camping.”
“I like doing the burning (on wooden artifacts) – you don’t have to wash paint brushes, or wait for the paint to dry! You just burn it – and it’s done! I can do it for hours and hours without distraction, it helps me to concentrate, to think, to relax.
Uncle Noel is a Traditional Custodian of Jinibara Country, which was recognised in 2012 by the Federal Court in a native title determination. (The Jinibara group includes Dala, Nalbo, Garumgar, Dungidau clan groups). The claim was filed in 1998. “In 2012, we were granted exclusive access to 800 hectares of property (in eight parcels of land). We also got non-exclusive rights to 70,000 hectares of national park (Glasshouse mountains, Mapleton National Park). That was a really good feeling; it took a really long time, but we got there”.
Uncle Noel is involved in the Woodford Folk Festival, as Traditional Custodian of the Woodfordia site, and as a Jinibara Delegate to the festival Committee.