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 only bed for Mum, my sister and I.”
The idea of painting this place has been brewing for several years.
It’s a daunting proposition with potential for cliche’s which I am hoping to avoid. I’m aiming for pared back compositions about colour, open space, silence and spirit, whilst remembering connections to family and friends now deceased.