Artist Profiles

Clair Bates 2020.jpg

Clair Bates

Malyalari-Malya, Clair Bates


Mutawintji NSW

‘I have now also taken the traditional name of my grandmother Hannah Quayle, also known as (Malyalari-Malya). I am a traditional land owner and a direct descendant of the Malingappa/Paakantji people of the Darling River, Western NSW, from a small town called Wilcannia. I come from a very large Aboriginal family and a strong Aboriginal community group. I grew up on a ‘Mission’ in Wilcannia. I still have strong family ties there. I lived in Newcastle for many years, two of my children and grandchildren are still living there, my eldest son is in Toowoomba, QLD, plus we also have two great grandchildren.

I was very privileged to have grown up amongst people like my grandmother, who spoke the Malingappa/Paakantji language and who practiced her Aboriginal culture. The language was passed down to family members and is spoken in Wilcannia. As a young girl, my grandmother was taught to stitch animal skin rugs with threads of sinew, and to make dilly bags from woven grass, which I have learnt to master the techniques as well. I am now known as a Master Weaver.

Also, grandma could more than hold her own in the European world of art, making work in crochet and fine embroidery.

I believe the influence and inspiration for my work developed as a child growing up in the bush and listening to stories from my grandmother. Each spring we would collect the native Quandong fruit which grows in the drier area in Australia. My mother would often cook the fruit for pies and jams, or we would just eat the fruit straight off the tree. After the fruit was eaten, we would use the round seeds to play marbles or make jewellery using other native seeds  such as the gum-nuts.

Over the years, the desire to learn and practice my Aboriginal culture has led me into the field of jewellery making, weaving and painting, amongst other areas.’

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