Dabakarn koorliny

Sandra Hill

Balingup, Australia

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Artist's Description

59.3cm wide x 78cm high
Oil on Plywood panel

Walking slowly from traditional times into today, the geckos represent the Aboriginal people moving down and away from their traditional boodjar (land). In the top part of the painting the Nyoongar people are so connected to the land, so integral to it that they are hardly discernable as they wander across it.

As they move down they pass through the time of the white man’s arrival and become faded and almost invisible. This represents the loss of cultural traditions, the loss of languages and the loss of kinship ties and familial knowledge that ensued from the 1905 Aborigines Act. Many of my people were deemed invisible as they became relegated to missions and reserves on the outskirts of towns all over the state. The 6pm curfew from the towns diminished any visibility to the wider ‘white’ community and hence the non-existent status of the Aboriginal population particularly, in the Southwest of the state.

The small photographic image in the top section of the work relates to being in a limbo state, the man in the photo (King Billy’s cousin) wears a traditional booka (kangaroo skin cloak) but on his head he wears what appears to be a felt hat. The woman, King Billy’s wife, wears European clothing and a woman’s straw hat, but cooks over a traditional fire and lives in a mia-mia made from both traditional bush materials and ‘town’ materials such as hewn wooden posts and corrugated iron sheets. The live on the outskirts of town, forgotten and ignored, living in a halfway world between black and white.

At the bottom of the painting the geckos regain their colour. This is today, my people can never go back to the old times (pre colonization) but there is still time to regenerate aspects of the culture and traditions that once guided our people and carry those attributes forward into the future in safe keeping for the generations to come. Somewhat like a ‘black renaissance’ we are taking back all that we have lost in the recent past and learning to walk freely and with pride and dignity into the future.

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desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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