Painted for the Pillars Project an initiative preceding the G20 world summit in Brisbane this year.
This is the first piece I have painted since back in my hometown of Brisbane, Australia. Whilst painting overseas my work was inspired by historic imagery relating to unique aspects particular to place and country. Through those experiences I have reflected on the history and identity of modern Australia as a nation and the power and strength represented by early indigenous photographic portraiture in Australia. These images have spoken to me and strengthened my understandings in the great divide in mainstream Australian culture against what defines Australia as unique. This work is about the responsibility of my large-scale portraiture style to represent this unique cultural identity and their rich connection to this land.
The content and theme of the work was based on a collaboration with Historian/Artist and Archive curator Michael Aird from Keeaira Publishing and the Queensland museum. The work displays a portrait of an unidentified woman who was part of an dance group formed by Archibald Meston from a variety of people from the Northern Territory, North Queensland and the Torres Straight, who travelled down to Brisbane in 1892 under the performance title of ‘Wild Australia.’ The group spent three months training in Brisbane in 1892 where they were photographed here on the banks of the Brisbane river. After travelling south to Melbourne financial backing was withdrawn and the group spent six months until they could get back to Brisbane in July 1893. Michael is currently researching this story together with these photographs for an upcoming exhibition project at the Queensland Museum early next year, through which it is hoped will begin the discussion in discovering family connections to these people and what happened to them.