2022 Solo Exhibition, Still Sacred and Golden held at the Koorie Heritage Trust, Naarm, Melbourne, Australia.
Throughout the early 20th century in Australia, an industry of curious objects became popular, further oppressing First Nations peoples and creating a false sense of what is to be an Aboriginal person and what Aboriginal people represent. The creation of kitsch objects, or Aboriginalia as these came to be known, often depicted sacred symbols and marks used for ceremonies or men’s and women’s private business. These symbols and marks were appropriated and painted by non-Aboriginal people and artists such as Margaret Preston. They were incorporated into artworks, and on ceramics and homewares. Many pottery studios like Martin Boyd Pottery, and Anna Studio in Sydney did not take into account this misappropriation that witnessed sacred symbols taken out of context, and somewhat misunderstood and disconnected from the original marks. This particularly occurred with the appropriation of sacred bone images. Symbols, art objects and designs originally created by Aboriginal people for ceremony, body markings, scar trees and artefacts found their way onto everyday objects like ashtrays, ceramics and homewares.
I have taken these objects and used them in my artwork to highlight this practice as disrespectful and wrong. I extended this critique by developing personally significant symbols and traditional marks to create my own version of the truth. My works insert a new style within the contemporary Australian still life genre – one that emerges from an Aboriginal women’s standpoint. Central to this standpoint is the addition of ochre as a reference to kin, skin and Country. My use of symbols and ochre exposes colonial objectification and misrepresentation of sacred symbols. They also expose the continuing appropriation of our cultural symbols, marks and people in the production of decorative objects and artworks due to a lack of understanding and examination within Australian contemporary art discourse and practice.