By Chern’ee Sutton
Age – 21 years
Size – 61cm wide X 31cm high
Medium – 3D acrylic and raised acrylic on canvas
How Matjumpa got her pouch
My name is Chern’ee Sutton and I am a contemporary indigenous artist and my heritage lie’s with the Kalkadoon people from the Mount Isa area in Queensland. This painting is called “How Matjumpa got her pouch”. In the Kalkadoon language “Matjumpa” means Kangaroo.
Long, long ago Matjumpa had no pouch and her young hopped along beside her, they were much slower than Matjumpa and so they had trouble keeping up with her speed and agility. Matjumpa would keep a watchful eye on her young but whenever she turned her back they would wander off or fall behind so she was always going back to find them.
One day a terrible fire was burning through the bush and racing towards Matjumpa and her young and so they started to hop away to try and outrun the fire. The fire was getting faster and bigger being pushed by the wind and Matjumpa knew that her babies would not outrun the fire and would die. Matjumpa stopped hopping and told her young to hang onto her tail tightly and she would then hop away quickly and take them to safety. The young kangaroo’s did not have much strength and with every hop that Matjumpa took one of them would fall off slowing their escape even more.
The fire was getting closer and Matjumpa realised that she was not going to be able to save her young this way and wondered what to do. She had a thought and with one quick stroke from her stone knife she cut open her belly and told her young to climb inside which they quickly did. Matjumpa continued to quickly hop away from the fire which was getting further and further behind them. Finally Matjumpa reached the safety of a river and hopped in to soothe her wound and once she had done this the water healed her stomach and left her with a pouch. Now all kangaroo’s and their relatives are born with pouches to protect their young from danger and keep them from getting lost.