Ngiilinya (take part in; keep in possession)
acrylic on canvas
61 x 76cm
As soon as I saw the word ‘Disturbance’ come up for me, the instant thought was of the primary symbol of the act that instigated all ongoing disturbances for First Nations Peoples, which is the Gweagal Shield.
The hole in the shield is from a musket round fired as Cook was coming ashore in Kamay (Botany Bay) on 29th of April, 1770. The shield was the property of a Gweagal warrior who opposed Cook’s landing party.
When he and his companion were fired upon by Cook, the shield was dropped and one warrior was wounded on the leg. The dropped shield was stolen by Cook and Co, and returned to England where it has been housed in the British Museum ever since.
Not only was this ‘disturbance’ the beginning of hostilities and act of war, it was also the beginning of the wholesale theft of Cultural belongings, artifacts, and remains illegally appropriated and housed in museums around the globe.
This disturbance remains unaddressed.
An anguished face has appeared in the surface of the shield in the production of this work. It was not done deliberately. In fact I didn’t see it at all until a close friend asked me about it.
The word RAW in mirror form is written subtly in a stylised form across a disturbance on the surface of the canvas. It is presented in mirror form so it will read WAR when reflected upon.
The two white lines represent crosshairs and the deliberate targeting action of Cook’s ‘landing party’ which began the frontier wars here.
Wars that have never ceased.