By Chern’ee Sutton
Age – 22 years
Size – 91cm wide X 121cm high
Medium – Acrylic and textured acrylic on canvas
Stone Axe - Ntia Warramparta
My name is Chern’ee Sutton I am 22 years old and I am a contemporary Indigenous artist from the Kalkadoon people from Mount Isa in Queensland. This painting is called “Ntia Warramparta” in the Kalkadoon language which means “Stone Axe”.
The Kalkadoon people have been extracting hard black rocks and making spearheads and axes from the hills of Mount Isa for thousands of years in Australia.
The spearheads and axes were not only used for themselves, the Kalkadoon people had extensive trade systems that went for hundreds of kilometres around kalkadoon territory. The Kalkadoons were extremely territorial and would rarely leave their country, they protected their mines ferociously and were known to surrounding tribes as fearsome warriors. They would tell neighbouring tribes by way of a message stick of a market that would be held in Kalkadoon territory to barter and trade their prized axe and spearheads. The hard black basalt weapons were easy to shape by the miners but very, very strong when chopping and Kalkadoon axes from Mount Isa have been found as far away as Southern and Western Australia.
The Kalkadoon people had a production line factory system in place where each group of people specialised in a certain area of the operation. The miners would lever large basalt rocks out of the ground using long wooden poles, the rock was then broken into smaller pieces by another group. The rocks were then moved to another place where they were shaped into spear and axe heads before they went to the final group who were women who sharpened the weapons ready for use. The same job specialties apply to the miners of today with each miner specialising in their own field.
In my painting the many campsites represent the Kalkadoon people working on their mine and showing the many different hands that make the operation work. Kalkadoon history and tradition is as old as time itself with the art of mining being practised for thousands of years.