Saturday, December 13, 2014


Today I have found myself remembering the recent past. It is 21 years today since Les took his life. I have contemplated what it would have been like if we had had a child which was something I wanted very much. They would have been 20+ by now. This makes me think how time has passed. Sometimes I feel as though I have lived several lives. My time as a young and righteous activist. My middle years of trying to understand people who didn't think like me and my early ageing when I am completely uncertain about everything. I notice that the young are frustrated and impatient with the generation I am now becoming a part of. They want certainty. They do think they know everything as I did. When I did my PHD I remember saying that the smarter I got the dumber I felt. I wonder if that is what experience gives you, the knowledge that you don't know.

Today I long for a time when I felt so resolved. I found this piece of writing, to Les, written in 1997, four years after his death.

'It's evenings like this that I miss you. When the sky behind my back bleeds in the window and catches the stray hairs from my head in a frizz of electric golden lines. When I have red lipstick on and its nearly worn off from eating passionfruit in one hungry mouthful. When I know that I am sexy and I'm full of loving life. Walking back from the 7/11 with the paper and I'm grinning all over, just at the juicy beauty of everything. I'm in Balaclava for gods sake. How can it be that beautiful, but it is. From the direction of the sea, purple spears of light shoot inland, solar furrows that break into sensitive finger stroking cloudlets as the colour dulls to a dark mud purple. From the city the sky revolts, with clouds the size of ships that billow as though the wind was in their sails. The yellow light that sneaks under the cloud before the sun dips from sight, feathers everything in a warm glaze. Colours come close, in this light. The red rose which tempts me over a neighbours fence is so matt, its almost a fluted hole in the surface of the real world. I want to put my finger in its fold to see where it would go. The night really does live in the trumpet of a darkly purple lilly that................'

And the printer ran out.

Life is so full of loss and beauty and love. I am grateful for the people I have known and the people who have nurtured me..., sometimes by fire I have annealed into the person I am today. Uncertain and curious.

Les at the Highlands

Me painting Jane Gitar and Jay Bird on the Women's Mural in 1984

Thursday, December 4, 2014

White against a white background OR how to distinguish your white privilege?

I am at the ACRAWSA conference and am having a extreme brain workout.
I keep having to remind myself that 'I am only an artist' and my job is to do that and not think I can change the world. HOWEVER I am committed to my art making a difference. Thus placing myself in the space of so many wonderful academics and thinkers on Race and Whiteness.
I woke in the middle of the night with a title. White on White. I don't yet know how that will emerge in a work and am trying not to think about it. But it is the over arching idea that has come to me. Meaning that for white people to see their whiteness is like trying to find a polar bear in a snow storm. That is because we live in such a all consuming possessive culture in which we have made white the standard and not just the standard but the snowstorm that covers everything. Blackness is defined by the ways it is not white. I love coming into another discipline (ie to be amongst academics who spend their life researching and writing about race) as it challenges me with everything I don't know. And calls me to account to learn things that I suddenly realise I should know. For example, the idea of post racialism. This is the bizarre notion that we have achieved a state of surpassing racism, that we are 'beyond' it. This seems to me to be a white fantasy bought about by people who live in a bubble. But is IS a concept.
So much more to write about but it has inspired me to get back to my blog. So watch this space.
The following images are from last year when I came back from my residency. They are a part of a series of water colours which I am building into a large artist book which I call 'The Book of Tears'.
They somehow seem relevant to what I am discovering.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A long silence

I have been silent for a while. Doing a lot of thinking.
I have also been writing a paper for the ACRAWSA conference in Brisbane later this week.
That is the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association. I imagine I will have lots more to contribute after that conference. I have been in the studio a lot but doing quite labor intensive work. I have had two very sore thumbs from pushing 3000 drawing pins into a portrait of my face.
I love this image as it looks like a beautiful dot painting on top of my image but it is actually 3000 drawing pins. It seems to me to be an inverted dot painting. Not really sure what that means but I make the work and the meaning will follow.

I have also been embroidering the Victorian chair, covering the stains with red satin embroidery thread and red beads. Last week I was privileged to be able to attend a workshop on Gunditjamarra language led by an old friend of my husband. It was so moving to hear a lengthy welcome to country spoken in language that would have been his. He died before this reconstruction work could be done. He would have been so proud to hear the words of his ancestors spoken so well.