Suzie  Bootja Bootja

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Suzie Bootja Bootja (Napangarti)

Artist Story

Susie Bootja Bootja is an Aboriginal artist from Balgo Hills in the Northern Territory of Australia. Susie Bootja Bootja is a vibrant and colourful personality who is respected for her knowledge of the law and ceremony of Kurtal (fresh water spring in WA). She tells stories about playing at the waterhole of Kangingarra (northern reaches of the Canning Stock Route) where she spent her youth. Susie walked in from the desert as a teenager to Tjumundora, one of the early mission sites.

When Susie moved to the old mission at Balgo Hills, she worked in the kitchen making bread and helping serve food to the dormitory children. There she met her first husband and had her first child, Lucy. Her husband was killed on a mustering trip due to intertribal conflict and left her a widow. Later she eloped with Mick Gill and had another six children and they remain a devoted couple today.

Susie was one of the first women painters and is well known for her initial dual use of western and traditional representations of country (hills, trees, snakes) along with lively use of bright greens, pinks and sky blues. Her innovative dotted colour fields began in 1996, and she continues to develop her style each year. Her eldest son, Matthew Gill, with Sister Alice Dempsey from the St John's Adult Education Centre, started up the Art Centre in Balgo in 1985.

Since then Susie Bootja Bootja has produced a profusion of paintings that are filled with her exuberant personality and her joy for life. She has travelled widely with her art, including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin and Kununurra. Susie also prides herself on her ability to sing both in English and Kukatja, as well as her ceremonial dancing. She is also a keen and knowledgeable hunter.

Subject & Themes

Tjunda- bush onions; Tjirrilpattja- bush carrot; Wanayarra- rainbow snake and eggs; Water and rain dreaming; Waterholes of Kurtal country; Tartjalpa snake.


Morven Estate.
Collection Araluen Centre.
Flinders University Art Museum Collection
The Holmes a Court Collection.
Kelton Collection, USA.
Kluge-Ruhe Collection, USA.
Ganter Myer Collection.

Individual Exhibitions

2002, Raft Artspace, Darwin

Group Exhibitions

Balgo, Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth
Art from Balgo, Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
Womens Exhibition, Parliament House, Melbourne
Lagamanu- An artist's survey , Hogarth Galleries, Sydney

Short on Size, Short St. Gallery, Broome
18th NATI Art Award, Museum and Art Gallery of NT, Darwin
Kutjungka, Bett Gallery, Hobart
Balgo Works, Staedtische Gallery, Wolsfburg, Germany
New Paintings from Balgo, Cutliffe Gallery, Sydney
Past Modern: an exhibition of Kimberley Landscapes, Short Street Gallery in conjunction with Australia Square, Sydney

Outlandish Dreams II, john Ruskin House, UK in association with Arts Network International
The Westside: Images in Ochre and Colour, Coo-ee II Exhibiting Gallery, Yuwayi Art Precinct, World Square, Sydney
Olympic Exhibition, Coo-ee Exhibiting Gallery, Yuwayi Art Precinct, World Square, Sydney
Desert Mob 2000, Araluen Art Gallery, Alice Springs
Lagamanu, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
17th National ATSI Art Awards, Museum Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
Melbourne Artfair 2000, Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne
Waltja - Family, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
Balgo: Selected Recent Works, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne
Balgo Art, Gondwana Gallery, Alice Springs
Lagamanu Aboriginal Paintings, Bett Gallery, Hobart
Dreaming in Colour: Australian Aboriginal Art from Balgo, Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, Virginia, USA

Aboriginal Art, IHK, Wurzburg, Germany
16th National ATSI Art Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
Desert Mob '99, Araluen Centre, Alice Springs
Mularrpa (True) Balgo, Framed, the Gallery, Darwin
Miliynyin, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
Miliynyin, Japingka Gallery, Fremantle

Painting Country, Pearlers Row Gallery, Broome
15th National ATSI Art Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
Ngurrara: My Own Country, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
The Laverty Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Gallery Gondwana, Alice Springs
New Paintings from Balgo Artists, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
Big Balgos: Recent Paintings by Warlayirti Artists, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney
New Paintings by Balgo Women, Vivien Anderson Gallery, Melbourne
Dreamings, Arnhem, The Netherlands
Daughters of the Dreaming: Sisters Together Strong, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Desert Country, Matso's, Broome

Songlines XV: Lagamanu, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London, UK

Landscape as Language: Australian Perspectives, Fine Art Gallery, Brisbane

Desert Spirit Paintings, Channing Gallery, Santa Fe, USA

Aboriginal Art Exhibition: Kung Guunga, Oasis Gallery, Broadbeach

Paintings from Kukatja Country, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, Yapa Peintres Aborigenes de Balgo et Lagamanu, Baudoin Lebon Gallery, Paris, France
Warlayirti Artists from Lagamanu WA, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney

Recent Balgo Paintings, Dreamtime Gallery, Perth
Paintings from Kukatja Country, Deustcher Gallery, Melbourne
Contemporary Aboriginal Art from the Robert Holmes a Court Collection, touring exhibition, USA

Warlayirti Artists: Continuing Links with Land, Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Paddington
Recent Paintings from Balgo, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
Balgo Painting, Dreamtime Gallery, Perth
Winner of Telstra Open Painting Award, 15th National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin.


1999, Cowan, J, Balgo New Directions, Craftsman House, Sydney, in association with G+B Arts International Limited
1994, Cowan, J., Wirrimanu, Craftsman House, Sydney, in association with G+B Arts International Limited.
1994, Johnson, V., The Dictionary of Western Desert Artists, Craftsman House, East Roseville NSW.
1994, Dream Journeys Calendar, image reproduction.
1993, Caruana, W., Aboriginal Art, Thames and Hudson, London, UK.
1991, Glowczewski, B., Yapa Peintres Aborigenes de Balgo et Lajamanu, Lebon Gallery, Paris, France.
(n.d.) Aboriginal Artists of Western Australia, folios of works and biographies, Aboriginal Education Resources Unit, Western Australia.

Book Mentions

Suzie Bootja Bootja is mentioned in the following publications:

Artist Links...

Suzie  Bootja Bootja
  • Region: The Kimberley
  • State: Western Australia
  • Locality: Balgo Hills
  • Born: 1935
  • Active from: 1986
  • Died: 2003
  • Medium: Screenprint and acrylic paint on canvas, limited edition prints.
  • Art Centre: Walayiriti Artists, Balgo Hills
  • Language: Kukatja