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Drinking in the cemetery

A contributed story from MICHAEL BOLTON in the Katherine Times (NT) about artist Paddy Wainburranga Fordham. He passed away in 2006 at the age of 74. 

Drinking in the cemetery

“Drinking in the Cemetery” was one of the last commissioned artworks that Paddy produced for me before his passing from this world into the next on June 1st. Not that Paddy felt unfamiliar with the world he entered that day. The drawing vividly shows us one of Paddy’s frequent communing and carousing with the spirit world.

Only Paddy could, without compunction, after last drinks at the perpetual Last Chance Saloon, take a taxi to the quietest most serene setting in Katherine town. Sitting down happily with a carton of green VB cans Paddy would commune with his deceased countrymen and family members until the humbugging Satan disrupted the reunion.

In the artwork the scene, or rather the theatre, is the cemetery. And the stage is Paddy’s, clearly marked out by the small oval paddock on the left of the bottom half of the drawing. This is not an exclusion zone, but the stage he shares with the spirits who have gone ahead, merrily drinking and orating stories of Country and history.

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