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Thancoupie (1937 - 2011)


Napranum, Queensland, Australia
Aboriginal Artist and Teacher


Thancoupie was born at Napranum in Queensland, on the land traditionally occupied by her ancestors. Her father was killed in war. Thancoupie attended the local school before being sent to Brisbane to train as a preschool teacher. Upon her return to Napranum she established a preschool but was unhappy with the situation and resigned.

Thancoupie began writing down and illustrating (with paintings on bark) stories her grandmother had taught her, and had a number of exhibitions of her work. Her application to study at a Sydney art school was rejected because she lacked formal qualifications, however she came across a pottery school which accepted her as a student. Thancoupie then went to America and Mexico and worked with indigenous potters. This helped her develop her own style, and she has since been creating pots and tile murals at her studio in Carins where she moved in 1976, after the Comalco mining company refused to allow her a house at Napranum because she had left the community. Thancoupie still visits her hometown on a regular basis.

Sources used to compile this entry: Nicholls, Christine, 'Artist kept her people's culture and language alive', Sydney Morning Herald, 7 September 2011, p. 20; Horton, David (ed.). The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia, Vol. 2, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1994, pp. 1066-7.

Leonarda Kovacic and Barbara Lemon

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