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Autobiography remembers Indigenous artist

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Autobiography remembers Indigenous artist 

The woman who created the mosaic centrepiece in the Centre for Aboriginal Studies (CAS) at Curtin University has been remembered at the launch of an autobiography of her life.

The book, Joan Martin (Yarrna): A Widi Woman, tells the story of artist Joan Martin, and was officially launched by Curtin’s Associate Professor Kim Scott on Thursday 21 July at CAS.

Ms Martin was born in 1941 in the country town of Morawa, Western Australia. She was a proud Widi woman whose life was filled with great challenges including avoiding Native Welfare officers so she would not be removed from her family along with her very public battle with Homeswest in 1997 for the right to remain in her Karrinyup home. Ms Martin passed away on 6 October 2008, aged 67.

Her memoir includes stories of her teaching bush wisdom to her children, passing on Creation stories, celebrating culture through her art, and conflicts with mining companies and white bureaucracies.

She started telling her story to Dr Bruce Shaw in 2006, entrusting him with the task of having her story published.

“Joan’s story is told without acrimony; rather it’s a matter-of-fact description of a hard life which acknowledges the highs and lows,” Dr Shaw said.

Her legacy includes her work on native title and her art, specifically the mosaic she created in the floor of the foyer of the CAS at Curtin University.

Rhonda Black, Director of Aboriginal Studies Press (ASP), which published Joan Martin (Yarrna): A Widi Woman, said the book was a great addition to ASP’s list of works.

“It’s a fascinating telling of Joan’s unique life, and complements other works in our list of Indigenous life stories,” Ms Black said.

The book is available to purchase for $34.95 at most book stores.

Bonnie Ripper, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 4364, Mobile: 0401 103 373, Email:

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