14 May 2018
I am interested in notions of identity and connectivity to place.
Karijini National Park is the traditional home of the Banyjima, Kurrama and Innawonga Aboriginal people. The Banyjima name for the Hamersley Range is Karijini. I have just been to this beautiful part of WA to create some drawings and to gather inspiration for an upcoming exhibition in August 2018, Sydney, NSW. Karijini is close to the old ghost town of Wittenoom - once the biggest town in the Pilbara. I have a connection to this place through my family who moved there in 1947 when the mine was newly established. Pop died from Wittenoom’s blue asbestos dust when I was a baby. Nan was a nurse/midwife in Wittenoom and various northwest towns - eventually settling in Broome. I remember her being interested in gardening and bush medicine - insect bites and sores were always treated with her concoctions. This probably came about through friendships formed with Aboriginal women over the years - some of whom I recall visiting on road trips to and from Broome as a child in the 1970’s.
“At the age of about six, I remember staying with Flo and Frank who lived somewhere near Point Samson in a rusty corrugated iron shack. It was pretty rough when I think about it. They were generous people and meant something to my Dad as a young boy in Wittenoom - their son was his friend. I remember they camped outside with Dad, giving up their own bed for Mum, my sister and I.”
14 May 2018
On my trip to Port Hedland I popped into the wonderful Spinifex Hills Studio. I was excited to meet the amazing Nyaparu (William) Gardiner and to check out a recent drawing/painting on paper that was about 3m long! (detail above). Winnie Sampi (right) was a delight too. She overheard me mentioning to another artist, my family connection to Wittenoom and when I got close to her table, she said, 'I was born in Wittenoom you know'. This sparked a lovely conversation about her memories there as a child, including riding on top of the mail truck from Roebourne to Wittenoom for the school holidays and then running straight to the bakery on arrival. The Italian immigrants made great bread apparently! I showed her a photograph I had in my phone of my Dad as a toddler standing on an old veranda in Wittenoom. She laughed at how cute Dad looked in the photo. I learned that Winnie and Dad were both born in the same year prompting me to wonder whether their childhood paths ever crossed.
This is a highly productive studio run by very dedicated people, Greg Taylor (Studio Manager) and Nicole Leuchter (Studio Co-ordinator). It is open to the public and there are literally 100's of paintings in the stockroom.
14 May 2018
A big thank you to FORM and the Port Hedland Courthouse Gallery for inviting me up to the stunning Pilbara to run a journal drawing workshop. I was run off my feet and completely forgot to take some photos!
A sketchbook is a place where I can try things out and fail, a place where I can scribble out an idea or delicately play with colour. Without it I'd find the blank canvas very daunting.