Ngurruwarra (claim; take as one’s own)
acrylic on framed canvas
76 x 61cm
When the word ‘Australian’ was drawn for me in this show, I had immediate misgivings.
I do not see myself as ‘Australian’, I am Wiradyuri.
The word ‘Australia’ to me has always been an homogeneous colonial name slapped onto the collective sovereign lands of the First Nations Peoples of the continent that has no name. For me ‘Australia’ is a colonial construct, not something that I identify with, nor have been willing to accept as a label. Then, I had that word, ‘Australian’ drawn and assigned to me for this show.
So I needed to sit with it until the angle presented itself. What occurred to me was to present counter iconography to the colonial stereotypical narrative of ‘Australian’. Instead of the eurocentric stereotypes of bronzed aussies, football, meat pies, beaches, coastal vistas, and associated coastal cringe, I decided to set to reclaiming the word ‘Australian’ and began by looking from the inside out; from west of the range, from the centre of our continent, outwards to the salt waters across the ranges.
I included our Ancestors guiding us as they have done since the first sunrise. I have ensured that each part of our interior is secure, undisturbed and safe in its Lore, above and below ground. I have include sparse vegetation and First Nations Lore holding population, in reference to our sustainable practices of land care and Custodianship, again since the first sunrise.
I have included reference to our Songlines, key aspects of our Spirituality, paths of trade, communication, ceremony and growth. Overall I hope to have focused on the importance of connection to Country and the care for same. Country is us. We are Country. When we care for Country we care for ourselves. I have included our Wiradyuri Central Lore, Yindyamarra, as a 5 band crosshatch moving counterclockwise around the edge of the canvas. The counterclockwise movement is in reference to how we enter and leave our sacred smoke during cleansing, healing and protection ceremonies.
So I pretty much painted an ‘Australia’ that I can relate to, one that I could actually connect to as an Australian on my own terms.