• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE1200


(1937 – 2011)
  • Nationality American
  • Born 1 January, 1937, Napranum Queensland Australia
  • Died 31 December, 2011
  • Occupation Artist, Teacher


Thancoupie was born at Napranum in Queensland, on the land traditionally occupied by her ancestors. Her father was killed in war. Thancoupie attended the local school before being sent to Brisbane to train as a preschool teacher. Upon her return to Napranum she established a preschool but was unhappy with the situation and resigned.

Thancoupie began writing down and illustrating (with paintings on bark) stories her grandmother had taught her, and had a number of exhibitions of her work. Her application to study at a Sydney art school was rejected because she lacked formal qualifications, however she came across a pottery school which accepted her as a student. Thancoupie then went to America and Mexico and worked with indigenous potters. This helped her develop her own style, and she has since been creating pots and tile murals at her studio in Cairns where she moved in 1976, after the Comalco mining company refused to allow her a house at Napranum because she had left the community. Thancoupie still visits her hometown on a regular basis.

Published resources

  • Book
    • Murawina : Australian women of high achievement, Roberta Sykes ; photography by Sandy Edwards, 1993
    • Thancoupie, the potter, Isaacs, Jennifer, 1982
  • Book Section
    • Thancoupie: earth shaper, Mellor, Doreen, 2001
    • I keep my head above my shoulders, and I try to keep him strong and high, Thancoupie and Ulli Beier, 1988
  • Edited Book
    • The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia : Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, society and culture, Horton, David, 1994
  • Resource
  • Newspaper Article
    • Artist kept her people's culture and language alive, Nicholls, Christine, 2011

Related entries

  • Related Concepts
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women