Vivienne Narkle
Vivienne Narkle

Vivienne is a proud Noongar woman from the Ballardong language group. She was born in Collie and grew up in the wheat belt town of York on the Native Reserve referred to as the “York Reserve”.

Vivienne grew up on the reserve  with her mother Pearl and six siblings, Eldest brother Phillip Narkle, hereslf (Vivienne Narkle), Meryl  Goodwin (nee Narkle) Audrey Nettle (nee Narkle), Dennis (Fred) Kickett, George Kickett and Janice Reidy (nee Kickett), in the later years her mother had two more children called Marion Kickett and Tracy Kickett, eight siblings all up.

Vivienne’s mother Pearl (nee brown) was born at the Moore River Settlement which was later called Mogumber Mission. Vivienne recalls her mother Pearl as a loving mother and instilled in them at a young age to stay in school ‘as long as you can and get an education[‘.

Vivienne speaks fondly of the reserve days where having her family and extended families around her, gave Vivienne a strong sense of identity and belonging. Vivienne stated “yes times were hard and we all had to help with chores and looking after our younger siblings, but we all helped each other”. Vivienne stated that as kids they had a great time, they loved to go swimming down the river or riding their bikes around the reserve, there was always someone to play with.

Vivienne recalls when she was fourteen years of age “The Native Welfare Department” sent her to Perth to work for a non Aboriginal family looking after their children. During this time she was allowed to return home for visits and eventually returned to the reserve to be with her family.

One of Vivienne’s bark Paintings
One of Vivienne’s bark Paintings

Because money was scarce every one would pitch in and help each other by selling their art work to non Aboriginal people.  Vivienne remembers watching her aunties for many years  Vera Boundry (nee Narkle), and Edith Boundry (nee Narkle) make bark paintings, they would collect the bark from the paperbark trees whilst at Alawa Groves, sometimes they had to burn the bark to give it a different effect. Here Vivienne learnt how to put the bark on the boards and how to match the different textures in the bark to make it look like different terrains; later Vivienne learnt how to paint the bark and press it onto the boards.

When Vivienne was around sixteen she started making  bark paintings herself and her younger sister Janice would go house to house and sell the paintings for her; twenty dollars for the big ones and ten dollars for the smaller ones.  Vivienne laughs when she recalls the profit they made in those days.

Vivienne’s life went on and she had one daughter called Donna. Later whilst drinking at the local watering hole (pub) in West Perth Vivienne met a man called William Bodney (Toopy) who later became her life long partner of forty two years, sadly Toopy has just recently passed away.

Sisters, Janice Reidy & Vivienne Narkle
Sisters, Janice Reidy & Vivienne Narkle

Vivienne’s daughter Donna had eight children. Vivienne and Toopy played an active role in helping to raise their eight grandchildren and now they have twenty odd great grandchildren, who currently keep Vivienne very busy.

Vivienne stated even though she is retired from making bark paintings she would be happy to hear from anyone if they feel the need to purchase one of her paintings.

If you would like Vivienne to make you a bark painting please contact Kinship Connections and we will forward your request on to her.