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By Chern’ee Sutton
Age – 21 years
Size – 61cm wide X 151cm high
Medium – 3D Acrylic and textured acrylic on canvas

Mother Bee - Martu Ulhu

My name is Chern’ee Sutton and I am a contemporary Indigenous artist from the Kalkadoon people from the Mount Isa area in Queensland.

This painting is called “Martu Ulhu” which means “Mother of Bee’s” in the Kalkadoon language.

Long, long ago when the first Kalkadoon’s ruled their country there were no bee’s. One day the young daughter of a Kalkadoon chief was in the bush by herself when the good spirit Kur-gun-yee appeared before her and said “if you come with me I will send something to the Kalkadoon peoples country that will live anywhere in the driest and harshest times and it will be a constant supply of food for them”. Unsure of her father’s wishes she told the good spirit to meet her again tomorrow at the same spot.

The girl returned to camp and told everyone what she had seen and what she was told by the good spirit. Her father and everyone else agreed that she could go with Kur-gun-yee if first he would show the Kalkadoon people what he was going to send. The next day the young girl met again with the good spirit and told him her peoples response, kur-gun-yee agreed and told the girl that all her people should meet with him the next day down at the creek and he would show them all what his gift was.

Everyone met at the creek and Kur-gun-yee arrived and showed everyone a large tree that had a hive with bee’s buzzing all around it. He told them all that this was Martu Ulhu which is the mother of all bee’s and this hive was never to be touched or disturbed for from it the bee’s would travel all over Kalkadoon country and make many new hives and would multiply in numbers. Everyone was satisfied with their new gift and so Kur-gun-yee took the young chiefs daughters hand and walked a few paces and then said “Hand in hand we go home, you go home” and with that they walked off slowly upwards to the skies and the chiefs daughter was never seen again.

The tree is still to this day by the creek and full of bee’s but this hive has and will never be touched or disturbed as this tradition and belief is still alive.

Let all who see this painting and read this story know that Kalkadoon history and culture is timeless and as old as time itself.



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