Stephanie Danggarrdjalmandja Durilla
language: Anindilyakwa, Yolngu
community: Milyakburra, Bartalumba Bay Outstation
mother country: Amaya
father country: Yirrkala
dance: death adder, green turtle
"I like being an artist, doing painting and weaving and creating new art. I like sharing stories with other people and other generations. I learnt from my sister who spent a long time in Baniyala, but she’s passed away. I learnt from her how to paint and she taught me how to make birds, canoes and bark painting and canvas. I grew up here (Groote Eylandt), so I tell my mother’s side stories, she was from Groote Eylandt. I also paint dugong and parrot fish and sharks and brolgas, they are all Bara stories, which are my husband Elvis’ stories.
I like painting dash and line, both. I learned dash painting from my sister, Alice (Durilla), and line painting from my other sister in Baniyala. Alice and I are the only dash painters on Groote Eylandt now, in the old days more people used to paint dash but not any more. We were given permission for our painting by Tony Wurramaba’s father."
Stephanie was born on Groote Eylandt; her mother was from Angurugu and her father’s family came from Yirrkala on the mainland. Stephanie’s great-great-great grandfather rowed to Groote Eylandt by canoe from Yirrkala; when he arrived on Eylandt, he stayed and got married.
Stephanie paints many stories. She painter her mother’s stories (Lalara): stingray, swordfish and parrot, as well as Bara stories of brolga, dugong, parrot fish and shark, courtesy of partner, and artist in own right, Elvis Bara. Stephanie often paints honeybees, her totem from her father’s side, and is well known for her narrative depictions of old ways and women’s stories, particularly illustrations of traditional dress including the yinakwumba (bark dress).
Stephanie is an accomplished painter, primarily favouring ochre on all mediums including bark, canvas, paper and wood sculpture. Stephanie paints in traditional Groote Eylandt style, including the dash and line painting, which is unique to the Groote Archipelago. Stephanie and her sister Alice Durilla are two of the few remaining dash painters on Eylandt.
Stephanie and her partner Elvis Bara, an accomplished senior artist is his own right, often collaborate creatively on artworks, pioneering new styles. Most recently they have developed a unique form of sand painting. Using a manganese base, reminiscent of traditional Groote Eylandt barks, Stephanie and Elvis create intricate, graphic patterns using coloured sand collected from Bartalumba Outstation, near the mangroves, where they live when not at home on Milyakburra (Bickerton Island).