Chern’ee Sutton


Chern’ee Sutton

Photo of Chern’ee at Kepnock State High School Awards night, Chern’ee received a Gold Cultural award, a Silver academic award, a Service award, the junior award for excellence in the arts and the junior award for citizenship 2011

ImageChern’ee Sutton

Chern’ee says in explaining her painting: “The different coloured hands represent the many different cultures and people living in the land we call home, Australia. The raised brown and yellow ochre centrepiece represents our sparse rugged land. The blue dots represent the rivers that give life to us all. The red dots represent the blood spilled in battle both here in Australia and overseas by all Australians protecting our way of life. The black dots represent the spirits of those departed that watch over us all and our land and the yellow ochre dots represent the youth of today that will take their country to new heights tomorrow. The kangaroo and emu represent our persistence for equality, which is always moving forwards and never backwards. The small white dots represent the spirit trails that link all Australians together in this movement forward under a common unity”. The Southern Cross  is displayed as part of the reconciliation gallery on Level 5 of the Parliamentary Annexe building.

Chern’ee Sutton, Is only 17 years old and is already an acclaimed contemporary Indigenous artist.  Her heritage lies with the Kalkadoon people from the Mount Isa area in Queensland, Australia.  Chern’ee’s  great, great, great grandmother is listed as an apical ancestor for the Kalkadoon people and her great uncle is the chairman of Kalkadoon Communities.

Chern’ee started painting in June 2010 when encouraged by her school to enter the Yoorellgoo indigenous art competition on 25/6/2010, Chern’ee has always enjoyed drawing and art but had not painted before. When she won first place in the open category for her painting it ignited a passion within her to record and tell her ancestral stories, and she has been painting madly ever since.

Chern’ee started painting when she was 13 years old painting mostly on canvas using acrylic and raised acrylic paints. Her works depict her passion about her families’ culture and history, and this is what she wishes to share with the rest of the world.                                                            Chern’ee has paintings hanging in Queensland’s Parliament House,  Queensland’s State Library, in the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs office and in the former Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurers office. Chern’ee has worked with several Government Departments across Queensland, and has also sold 4 paintings to Tennis Australia. Tennis Australia has proudly purchased the rights to use and reproduce her designs in association with its indigenous tennis activities right around Australia.

Chern’ee was artist in residence for two weeks at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, and was commissioned by Dreamworld to paint 8 totem poles in the Dreamworld Corroboree display with the permission of the Kamilaroi elders and the Yugambeh language group. Chern’ee’s exhibition at the 2014 Australian Tennis Open as artist in residence, produced a collaborative painting an installation art piece with several celebrities and tennis stars adding their handprints that Chern’ee incorporated in the work.
I believe we are all created equal and should all be treated with the same respect that we wish for ourselves and families.

Chern’ee says “I love the feeling I get when I donate and can help those in need, and I also imagine our world if everyone gave a little something”. Chern’ee has donated many works to a variety of causes listed here

Chern’ee is a shining example for indigenous and non indigenous youth on what can be achieved with passion and determination to reconcile Australia through  arts practice.

To view more of Chern’ee work and her story visit her website

ImageMilumanu This story is called “Milumanu” which means “Sleepy Lizard” in the Kalkadoon lnaguage. Long long ago there lived a very lazy small lizard named Milumanu. He was a warm blooded lizard that lazed around in the shade all day long sleeping and hiding in the bushes. He was no help at all to all the other lizards that were part of his family and would not even collect food but instead expected all the other lizards to supply him with their food. Every night all the lizards would ask Milumanu why he was so lazy and sleepy all the time and he would always answer as he ate their food because I am so tiny and my blood is not like yours it is warm and the heat of the day would make me pass out if I were in the sun, I also have no defence against the other animals that would harm me so I have to hide in the bushes. One night after all the lizards had had enough of Milumanu’s laziness, illipari who was the chief of all the lizards approached his friend and told him if he did not start to collect food like all the other lizards then he would have to leave their camp and fend for himself. Milumanu tried to go to sleep but was worried about the consequences of not helping out and finally drifted off to sleep wishing he could be different.

During the night Unukari the wind spirit heard Milumanu’s cries for help and decided to grant him his wish to be different and be part of the lizard family.

When Milumanu awoke in the morning he felt like he had not slept at all, he felt cold and could barely move his body along the ground. On his way to his favourite sleeping bush he passed through the suns rays and suddenly felt full of life and energy. As he moved closer to the bush a large snake poked his head out and went to eat Milumanu who terrified opened his mouth to scream and was surprised to find that he had a frilled neck and was now scaring the snake who hastily retreated back to the bushes.

Milumanu wanted to tell all the other lizards that were walking past about his new defence but they kept on walking straight past him until he also realised that he could now blend into the country with his new camouflage and not be seen. That night when all the other lizards brought in their catch of insects for the day Milumanu entered the camp with the most insects any had ever collected before and proudly told of his new defences and cold blood and that from now on he was the fastest and best hunter of all and would always share his catch with those that had looked after him for so long.

He is now known as the frilled neck lizard and is the fastest of all lizards running on two legs to catch his prey.


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