Shirley Purdie is a senior artist at Warmun Community (Turkey Creek) in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. She is a strong Law and Culture woman and an important ceremonial singer and dancer. In the early 1990s Shirley began to paint her country, inspired by older Warmun artists, including her mother, Madigan Thomas as well as Rover Thomas and Queenie MacKenzie. Shirley’s uncle, artist Jack Britten said to her ‘why don’t you try painting for yourself, you might be alright.” Shirley views painting as an important cultural educational tool. She says ‘its good to learn from old people. They keep saying (when you paint) you can remember that country, just like to take a photo, but there’s the Ngarrangkarni (Dreaming) and everything. Good to put it in painting, your country, so kids can know and understand. They can learn from paintings and maybe they want to start painting’ Shirley is well known for her use of richly textured natural earth pigments on canvas; ochres which are collected from and imbue her paintings with the spirit of her country. Shirley was born on Gilbun (Mabel Downs Station). As a young woman Shirley worked on Mabel Downs and Texas Downs Stations, and returned to Warmun to work in the school.
Exhibitions: 1994 “Maintaining Family Tradition”, International year of the Family Conference, Adelaide Festival Centre, SA 1994 Artists of the East Kimberley Exgibition, Canberra Grammar School 1994 National Aboriginal Art Award, Australian Heritage Commission 1995 Savode Gallery, Brisbane, Qld. 1998 Span Gallery, Melbourne, Vic. 1999 Japingka Gallery, Freemantle, Perth, WA Karen Brown Gallery, Darwin, NT Chamber of Commerce, Wuerzburg, Germany East Kimberley Art Awards, Kununurra, WA Hale School Annual Art Exhibition, Perth WA Hogarth Galleries, Paddington, Sydney, NSW Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, VIC 2000 Kunst Der Aborigines, Galerie Baehr, Dromagen, Germany Anthropological Museum, Freiburg, Germany Galerie Australis, Adelaide, SA Ben Grady Gallery, Canberra, ACT Bett Gallery Hobart, TAS Commonwealth Institute, London, UK “The Art of Place” National Indigenous Heritage Art Award, Canberra, ACT “State of my Country”, Hogarth Galleries, Paddington, Sydney, NSW Michael Carr Gallery, Sydney, NSW Melbourne Art Fair 2001 “Past Modern”, Short Street Gallery, Australia Square, Sydney, NSW “Four Women of Warmun”, Artplace, Perth,WA Group Show , Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane QLD Thornquest Gallery, Group Show, Gold Coast, QLD “Ochres” Group Exhibition Short Street Gallery, Broome , WA “This Earth is for us”British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, Bristol, UK "Beyond wings” Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide SA "Bush Painting” Chapel off Chapel, South Melboune , VIC 2002 “Collectors Show” Span Gallery, Flinders Street Melbourne, VIC “Easter Show” Bett Gallery, Hobart, TAS Group Show, Framed Gallery, Darwin, NT Warmun Group Show , Flinders University Art Museum Adelaide, SA
Collections: Edith Cowan University Art Collection, Perth, WA Kerry Stokes Collection Berndt museum of Anthropology, University of WA, Perth Northern Territory university Collection Private Collections