Mirdidingkingathi Juwarrnda Sally Gabori / Kaiadilt people / Australia c.1924–2015/ Dibirdibi Country 2008 / Synthetic polymer paint on linen / 200 x 600cm / Purchased 2008 with funds from Margaret Mittelheuser, AM, and Cathryn Mittelheuser, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Mirdidingkingathi Juwarrnda Sally Gabori/Licensed by Viscopy, 2014

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori
Dibirdibi Country 2008

Not Currently on Display

Dibirdibi Country 2008 conveys the story places of Dibirdibi, the Rock Cod ancestor, and charts his creative journey along the Bentinck Island coastline in the Gulf of Carpentaria in far north Queensland.

These stories belonged to the artist’s late husband, Pat, whose traditional name was also Dibirdibi. Gabori’s paintings are abstract in nature, but retain certain representational elements crucial to mapping her country.

Here, the prominent Kaiadilt stone-walled fish traps dominate the painting in the form of mainly black and white bold arching forms through the centre of the painting. The physical characteristics of the land can also be identified — rivers, streams and sandy beaches. The painting brings Gabori closer to her late husband in depicting the country they loved.

Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori (c.1924–2015) came to painting at the age of 81. She was one of a handful of leading artists from Indigenous communities who worked in a bold personal style outside the established traditions of painting country. Others include Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Ginger Riley, Makinti Napanangka, Wakartu Cory Surprise and Nora Wompi.

Gabori is widely acclaimed for her vibrant use of colour depicting the intimate connections between the Kaiadilt people of Bentinck Island, their country and their history.

For her first 23 years, she moved between her family’s main homeland sites, living according to her unbroken ancestral culture. Then, in 1948, following devastating drought, storms and a near 4-metre tidal surge, she and her kin were moved to nearby Mornington Island.

Gabori returned to Bentinck Island whenever possible and maintained a strong connection to her Kaiadilt country through language, song and storytelling, all of which she incorporated into the act of painting.

Discussion Questions

1. What is a fish trap? Can you see where these are in the painting?

2. Look at the other colours in the painting – what do you think these represent?

3. What was Sally Gabori trying to tell people about Dibirdibi Country through this artwork?


1. This work represents Dulka Warngiid (Bentinck Island) – Sally Gabori painted various parts of the landscape of the island in her artworks. Explore Bentinck Island through this interactive map.

2. Think of a place which is special to you (this could be your house, a holiday spot, or your school) and its key features. Draw an aerial view of this place using symbols and colours to mark out the important spots and what it means to you.

3. Have a go at this interactive activity fromy the Children’s Art Centre called ‘Mirrayalatha Marinda Malankarri – Build your own Humpy‘ which was created in collaboration with Amanda and Dorothy, the daughters of Sally Gabori.

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