Artwork Description

Oil on stretched canvas, ready to hang.

Signed with a certificate of authenticity.

Finished today! 🙌🦋🙌
‘Mary Ann Bugg’
2021 September
Who is she?
Mary Ann Bugg, the Aboriginal bushranger erased from Australian folklore.

Proud Worimi woman, mother of an estimated fifteen children, and one of the country’s first female bushrangers, Mary Ann Bugg more than deserves her own place in history. Since her rise to fame in the 1860s for her role in the legend of Captain Thunderbolt, famously the last of New South Wales’ bushrangers, Mary Ann has been both obscured and sensationalised within the historic record. Until recently, it was rare to find a version of her story where Thunderbolt was not the focus. [1]

Mary Ann Bugg doesn't fit the stereotype of a 19th-century woman.

Often dressed in men's clothes, she was an expert horse rider and skilled bush navigator who roamed with her partner across NSW as he robbed travellers, stations, pubs and stores while eluding police.

Most history books mention her as the partner of the infamous Captain Thunderbolt, the "gentleman bushranger" famed for escaping from jail on Cockatoo Island — but Mary Ann has every claim to being just as iconic.

Mary Ann was a proud Worimi woman, born of an Indigenous mother and convict father near Gloucester on the mid-north coast of NSW.

In 1860 she met Thunderbolt, whose real name was Fred Ward. Before his capture in 1870, she acted as his scout, informer, lover and confidante and bore him three children.

She taught the illiterate Thunderbolt to read. She helped provide food and shelter, spread false information to help him stay ahead of the authorities and nursed him back to health after he was shot.

Thunderbolt remains a legend, a popular folk hero and major tourist drawcard in New South Wales, where a highway is named in his honour.

Mary Ann Bugg is less well known and some even say she's been erased from the Thunderbolt legend.

And for one of her biographers, that's part of a bigger problem, where many Aboriginal people responsible for the survival of Australian folk heroes have been airbrushed from the history books.

So I’m going to try to bring her memory back to life!


Absolutely massive canvas! 122 x 91cm Oil on Duck Canvas

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Oil on Duck Canvas

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Stretched and ready to hang

This artwork is currently stretched and ready to hang.

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