PANDANUS STORY - PRINT
By Rhonda Duncan
“The pandanus is a very good and unique material to use. We use part of it for colouring/ dying, to make a basket or a dilly bag- putting all the food in, and they used to use it for fishing net. You can eat the nuts. So many things you can do with pandanus. If you want to make a basket or a dilly bag you have to go out and find the tree, take the leaves down, sit down, take the spikes out, strip it, dry it. After a while you have to do all the colouring. Many different colours can be found: red, yellow, orange, brown- you have to go and dig up the colour, and then get a bucket to get some water, make a fire, and boil it, and then put that pandanus in for half an hour or one hour to make that colour. Then you got to sit down and make the basket – that takes maybe three or four weeks. It’s a long process! My design tells that story of pandanus.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Rhonda moved to Katherine in 2016 after her partner passed away. She became a painter, a carver and a weaver after watching her three brothers and two sisters and begging them to teach her. “One day I went to the shop and got a blank paper and some colours, and started doing my designs. Then it went straight into my head – that’s it. I didn’t leave doing my art after that. I just went on and on and on.”Rhonda was born in Ngukurr in 1966, and grew up in nearby Urapunga. Her Aboriginal name is Brongin. Her father’s language is Rittarungu her mother language is Ngalakan. She speaks a mixture of these languages, as well as Kriol and English with her family.
She says of painting, “It is good because it makes you feel good inside your heart and mind. Sometimes when I don’t have space to go out with a car I love doing painting because it takes me somewhere. It really makes your mind relax – the image of land and nature. Sometimes you think about the old people and how they used to live in the land - the rivers, the billabongs, hunting, animals and everything- coming together to share the food and the life.”
In September 2017 Rhonda had her first experience of textile design at a workshop run by Tim Growcott and Millie Shorter, facilitated by Magpie Goose in partnership with Katherine Regional Arts. When asked about putting her designs on texitiles, she says: “Make me feel proud; I love doing it. I have so much inspiration – my painting, my families, it’s good.”