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Wakartu Cory Surprise

Pitill Jila - 2007

synthetic polymer paint on canvas
60.0 x 90.0 cm
Price Realised: $3,050.00

MP #791


Mangkaja Arts, WA Cat. No. 232/07
Private Collection, NT

Cory Surprise was a highly regarded, award-winning contemporary artist from Fitzroy Crossing known for her uninhibited painting style. She was born at Tapu, her father's country, in the Great Sandy Desert. Her parents both died there when she was still a baby. Cory managed to escape the outside world by staying with her extended family until she walked out of the bush as a young woman having already been inducted into the law. As a result, she knew her country intimately, including all the places to find water, all the significant sites, and how to find food.


In time she met and married the well known artist Peter Skipper, who worked as a contractor building fences. They travelled together and she worked as a camp cook and goat herd. They worked at Quanbun Downs, Jubilee Station, Yiyili, and Cherrabun Station, before settling at GoGo Station (near Fitzroy Crossing) for more than 20 years. Finally, they moved into the larger township at Fitzroy Crossing in the 1950s.

Cory first started painting at Karrayili Adult Education Centre in the early 1980s when in her 50s. Her paintings are all about her country, including jilji [sand hills], jumu [soak water], jila [permanent waterholes], and jiwari [rock holes], pamarr [hills and rock country], mangarri [vegetable food] and kuyu [meat].

This work depicts Jilji (sandhills) at her birthplace deep in the Great Sandy Desert.