Translation: Looking

Photograph by Russell James. Collaborative art by Lance Chadd (AUS).

4’11” x 6’4” archival pigment ink printed on rag cotton with acrylic and ochre applications.

‘This painting reminds me of teaching my Aboriginal and Whadjella (white) students the gouache (Carrolup style painting). Sometimes, while teaching, I talk about our stories of how the Balga trees (grass trees) are our fire trees. So here I’ve got the fire coming off the stem. Sometimes that stem is called ‘Murliny’, sometimes its called ‘Karriduk’ . When its ‘Karriduk’ its in association with how fire came to the Nyoongar people of the South West. A lot of the times they (students) would come to me afterwards and say ‘After doing that gouache, I’ve been seeing that country, these paintings, everywhere I go’. So they have this new awareness. Looking at country and recognizing things from what I have taught them in the painting workshops.

These earthy colored waving lines here, represent the rhythm in the land, the vibrations in the land and the different moods in the land. When you look at those eyes here, you think to yourself, well, we are never alone, and in our culture, as far as your totemic spirit, your ‘Boorungar’, your spiritual guardian, he’s with you all the time. The world may think of Jesus or God or Creator as the wholly spirit with you all the time. Ours is a land-based spirituality, its here in the birds and animals and plants and fish, all things related to true totemic spirituality. There’s a feeling of never being alone. These lines in the painting also represent the great snake and how he move’s. The ‘Wargyl’, the Rainbow serpent. He’s the creator of our rivers and waterways. He’s in the wind and in the flowing of water. He can be wherever’.