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Artwork description: Dragonfly story

Norma Benger has provided the art, biography and accompanying artwork information that appear here.

Norma Benger

Norma Benger Chidanpee has a very diverse background with her people coming from Wadeye, Woodycupuldia in the Daly River region, on her mother's side, and Barrow Creek, in Central Australia, on her father's side. She communicates in the languages of Ngunkikurrunku, Marathiel, Murinpatha and English (which is her fourth language).

She has been employed at the Menzies School of Health Research for 13 years as an Aboriginal research assistant. She has worked on the causes and effects of rheumatic fever for the last 3 years, and has also worked on many other health projects. Her work has also included artwork on many of these projects.

Ngummama - Dragonfly - The story of the dragonfly

Ngummama - Dragonfly
by Norma Benger

Ngummama - Dragonfly
by Norma Benger


When babies are born in the dry season this is also the time of the birth of the dragonfly, which hums and buzzes around the air, excited about the birth of the new season.

The grandmothers catch the dragonflies to test babies' hearing, making them buzz near the babies' ears. When a baby responds, we know that they have good hearing. If not, the old ladies bring the dragonfly closer so the baby can feel the vibration and sound of its wings, then they sing to the spirits and the dragonfly, 'We all must look after this child together to help him to grow and be able to communicate'.

So, if you see a dragonfly buzzing around a baby, it is just looking and checking the baby's response because that's what they do. In the past, everyone worked together - dragonflies, grandmothers and the spirits.

Ngumumma - Dragonfly - Artwork description

The centre of the artwork represents the baby and the subject of hearing, the outside circles joined by the dots are the links between families, organisations and other people working to help in the fight against ear disease and hearing problems in Aboriginal people.

Norma Benger

Last updated: 29 October 2010
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