Anpanuwa Joyce Crombie
Traditional Aboriginal and Cultural Artist
The gentle directness of Joyce's art goes straight to the heart, beyond language and time. With a tender touch, Joyce reveals a vision of country with surprising glimpses of an ancient culture. For Joyce, the land is calling her to paint, evoking colours of earth and sky and wind. Her paintings catch the spirit of rock and tree speaking their Dreamtime stories.
Joyce is from Wangkangurru/Yarluyandi country around Birdsville. One weekend in 2000, stranded at Winton in floodwater, she took up the brush and fell in love with painting the land.
Two Sisters Talking
Sisters, collaborators, and lifelong friends; Anpanuwa Joyce Crombie and Aulpunda Jean Barr Crombie form a duo that weaves their culture and traditions into the amazing art they create. Growing up in the Wangkangurru/Yarluyandi country of Birdsville in our remote Western Queensland region, both sisters have a deep understanding and connection to their land they love. From the rich burnt orange of our soil to the vibrant greens we see after a good rain, Joyce and Jean capture the very essence of what their country means to them within their traditional Aboriginal artwork.
But more than expressing their love for Country they live upon, Joyce and Jean’s art and literature aim to share the culture, language, and stories they were taught when they were young. Forming a duo called ‘Two Sisters Talking’, Joyce and Jean have made it their mission to document their culture in books, art, and audio before it becomes lost to time.
‘The first book we wrote together was the ABC Children’s Talking book, and we wanted to get it out there because we felt there was no one else that could spread our culture and carry on,’ explains Joyce. ‘Our late Father’s and Mother’s passion to share culture has motivated us to continue in their footsteps. So, to start things off, we started with the alphabet of our Wangkangurru language, with animals to match, and we did our own artwork for the books. We felt it was really important because we wanted to hand all of the knowledge we had down to our younger generation— Mum and Dad handed it to us when we were young, and it was our turn to do the same.’
As time marches ever forward, the rapid loss of culture and tradition shared amongst our Aboriginal communities has meant, for some, a loss of connection with their heritage and country. Having grown up in a time where culture was fading around them, Joyce and Jean feel it is paramount they share their knowledge so that the younger generation can experience the full richness of their heritage, too.
‘Walking and Talking Together—we want to share as much as we can so other Wangkangurru / Yarluyandi people can understand the country they came from, and the traditions that make us who we are. For us, there is nothing more important than teaching what we know,’ explained Jean. ‘we just want to share our culture and not let go of it.’
‘We were lucky because Mum, Dad, and our family Elders knew our language, which has been recorded and kept in a safe place up until we started our language books. When we were younger, we didn’t listen as much as we should have. Now that we’re older and wanting to pass it onwards, we are creating our books, and what we want to do in the future is make a dictionary for our language. What we hope is that others can stand up and share their stories too, before it's lost.’
Having published the ABC Children’s Talking book and a recollection of their childhood through the book Looking For Tucker, Joyce and Jean’s efforts to document their language has not only created resources that will last into the coming future, but have also created an inspiring set of beautiful stories and artworks that fully capture what it means to be a part of a culture, a way of life from a completely new perspective.
Red Ridge's Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Officer
Connecting isolated communities, one step at a time.
Being the second member of Red Ridge to join the cause, Anpanuwa Joyce (Joyce Crombie) is an invaluable asset to both Red Ridge and our region as a whole. Growing up in the Diamantina Shire in Queensland’s far south-west, Joyce has lived a life observing and respecting the land we call home. In her own art, it is the land that calls her to paint—the colours of the earth, sky and wind inspire her to bring us the art we know and love.
With Joyce as our Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Officer, the sky is the limit when organising our amazing art workshops. Bringing her invaluable knowledge on traditional Aboriginal art techniques and her ever-gentle support, Joyce makes every workshop a pleasure to experience. Uniting communities, we truly wouldn’t be Red Ridge Interior Queensland without Joyce’s understanding, kind-hearted guidance.