As a child growing up, Susan had no awareness of her indigenous heritage. Perhaps to protect her from the ancestral history of massacres and stolen generations, her parents led her to believe that she was of Spanish heritage. She and her twin sister wondered why the locals sometimes attacked them and called them “aboriginal”.
At 18 years old Susan moved to New Zealand, married and raised her family. She always loved art and completed various art classes and tutorials and involved herself in art when she had the time for the 23 years she spent there.
On returning to Australia and reconnecting to her family, she got to know more about her indigenous ancestry and, in particular felt a bond and closeness to her Great Grandmother, Maggie Dunn. As she followed the story of Maggie- the removal of her first seven children to a mission on the death of her first husband to never being allowed to see them again – then the placing of her and her three children from her second husband to the Purga Mission in Ipswich-Susan found an overwhelming bond to Maggie and her grief and suffering, her resilience and strength.
Susan paints in memory of Maggie and feels her hand is guided by hers in her own individual style of indigenous art. Yet, they had never met. Maggie Dunn had not only survived the massacres happening in the area but she fiercely did her best to bring up and protect her 10 children, who somehow survived bar one who died of disease. Susan and all Maggie’s descendants owe their very existence to this woman.
Susan sees every art piece, every accolade for her painting and her talent as compliments not for her but for Maggie. It is somehow a way of saying ‘Thank you, Maggie, thank you from us all”.