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Madge Bowen

Madge was born in Yarrabah in 1944.  Her mother was part of the Stolen Generation who were taken away as children and sent to the Yarrabah Mission.

Madge’s totem is the Mirrgi (Night Owl).  

Madge moved to Hopevale from Yarrabah with her brother in 1950.  She was a young girl who had tragically lost her mother from a car accident. The Lutheran Church missionaries took Madge and placed her in the Hopevale Girl’s dormitory. 

In her memoir, Madge describes life in the dormitory, explaining how difficult it was being taken away from her family and living under extremely controlling and oppressive rules.

In her late teens, Madge was sent away to by the missionaries to work on a dairy farm.  She recalls a happy time, escaping mission life and that she'd been lucky to be sent to a loving and kind family. 

Madge married Edward Bowen in 1967 and had six children. She now has twenty-two grandchildren and great grandchildren.

She worked at the Hopevale School as a teacher’s aide for 20 years, retiring in 2007.

Madge paints her traditional homeland, Bulgan (Kings Plains). Her richly painted landscapes convey her deep connection to Bulgan and special sites surrounding the area.

Madge belongs to the Gamba Gamba group (senior women) at the art centre. Artworks by the Gamba draw on traditional Guugu Yimmithirr Warra culture and contemporary and mission time histories. The women hold deep cultural knowledge of family kinship systems, sacred sites, esoteric characters and totems and are passionate about recording language and traditional stories to preserve and hand down to the younger generations.

Madge has been a director and long term staff member of Hopevale Arts & Cultural Centre. She was honoured as a life member of the organisation in 2012.

Madge completed her Diploma of Visual Arts through TAFE in Cairns in 2013.

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