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Sam has been invited to contribute paintings to books that help interpret complex Aboriginal concepts such as the stellar songlines and customary law. Through her collaboration with Wardaman Elder Bill Yidumduma Harney, and with Dr Hugh Cairns, they have produced works that speaks to these elements.

Spirit of My Country by Samantha Wortelhock & Damien Naughton
The Spirit of My Country


Publisher, Kevin Weldon has a collection of Sam’s paintings and wanted Sam to collaborate with his daughter, Cecille Weldon.  The book was a joint venture with Australia Post and Cecille’s publishing company. Cecille matched Dorothea McKellar’s celebrated poem 'My Country' with BreakAway Art paintings.  The book highlights Australia’s rich visual land and sea-scapes, and master calligrapher Dave Woods coloured his magnificent font with the paintings’ hues. 


Authors: Samantha Wortelhock & Damien Naughton

Dark Sparklers by Hugh Cairns & Bill Yidumduma Harney
Dark Sparklers


Wardaman Elder, Bill Yidumduma Harney and Professor Hugh Cairns, a world expert in Aboriginal rock art hold a deep respect for one another.  Hugh is the biggest collector of Sam’s work and his friendship with Wardaman Elder, artist and writer Bill Yidumduma Harney has culminated in two books: Dark Sparklers and Four Circles.


Dark Sparklers unveils the stellar song line stories as told by the Wardaman people.  In an extraordinary gesture of trust, Bill and Hugh asked Sam to paint two paintings (Re-member and Oversoul) that attempt to interpret the complex perceptions of the Creation Story.  After the book was launched at Government House in Darwin, Bill invited Hugh and Sam to Wardaman country; the Land of the Lightning Brothers (170 kms west of Katherine, NT). He sat Sam down at a breathtaking rock art site called Moon Dreaming and shared with Sam his Creation Story.  There is no question that this was the highlight of Sam’s life as an artist and it sealed her indelible connection with Aboriginality.


Authors: Hugh Cairns & Bill Yidumduma Harney

Four Circles by Hugh Cairns & Bill Yidumduma Harney
Four Circles


The two men then asked Sam to paint a picture for their second book, Four Circles that demystifies and explains the complexity of customary law.  Four Circles came to Sam in a dream and is her interpretation of circle sentencing and customary law.


Authors: Hugh Cairns & Bill Yidumduma Harney

Clean Slate Aurukun by Samantha Wortelhock
Clean Slate Aurukun


Every second week for 4 months, Sam worked with the patients of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Wellbeing centre in Aurukun. Clean Slate is a public art template that can be adapted to any brief. 


Clean Slate Aurukun began with a yarning circle so participating patients could each share their thoughts in a safe environment. The group's heartfelt intent was to challenge Aurukun's national reputation as a violent and shameful community. Consequently, the group helped design and paint a mural for the airport buildings that continues to greet arrivals with a warm, humorous welcome. Myriad totem birds animated and dancing, some about to touch down in their wetland country, declare: You have landed in Aurukun ... welcome. 


The patients changed the way people feel as they arrive and leave the community. It's a powerful, life affirming contribution they have made to Aurukun.

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