Kuku Yalandji, Waanji, Yidinji and Gugu Yimithirr people
Vernon Ah Kee is a nationally and internationally renowned artist who was born in Innisfail, south of Cairns, in 1967. This year he returned to Cairns to complete a commissioned portrait for the Gallery’s Permanent Collection, Merv Ah Kee (my father).
His father Merv, who tragically died in a car accident in 2014, and his mother Margaret, were both passionate advocates for Indigenous rights and education. In 2004 Ah Kee became a founding member of proppaNOW, a collective of Aboriginal artists in Brisbane to give urban-based Aboriginal artists a voice.
The commissioned portrait depicts his father gazing out of the drawing, directly at the viewer. Working from photographs of his father, it was a sometimes painful “labour of love” which Ah Kee shared with his mother who often sat with him in the studio, observing her son at work.