The Self Reconciliation Project
Updated: Jan 2
Artist-in-Residence Fremantle Art Centre
The thread of the project came about in 2019 from a series of work titled Self Reconciliation I made for a group exhibition in Sydney. Researching 100 years of my family history and our access to land in Australia I started with a time-line beginning with migration from Scotland to Quairading and finishing with the birth of my mother. The family was one of the first settler families to arrive in Quairading and they were given free land lots while the First Nations peoples of the area were persecuted and driven out.
My great grandfather (my father’s father) lived in Beltana, South Australia and many men at the time, including from my family, were working on the Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie railway. I discovered how the First Nations people of the area where shackled and forced to show where the waterholes were located. The waterholes were then fenced off and many of the First Nations people died from lack of water, and the survivors forced to leave their land. This made me consider my place as a non-Indigenous Australian and how I can come to terms with my family history.
The 2019 work also looked at my own childhood- growing up in a mining town in Western Australia. With the backdrop of the mines and removal of minerals from the earth, I experienced the bush and developed a love of nature and clay. This connection to 'place' and the environment has driven my artistic practice. However, over the decades an illusory 'white' history has gradually been revealed and I am forced to re-examine my own past and my place within it.
Long standing issues with First Nations Peoples continue to cast a dark shadow in Australia. We need to become reconciled with our history. For 'ordinary people' (such as myself) to know, understand and acknowledge the atrocities between our past and the First Nations People is the beginning.
As artist-in-residence at the Fremantle Art Centre, Perth, Western Australia (February to June 2022) I will continue to explore my family history, and the concept of ‘self reconciliation’.
I will interview family members to hear their stories and recollections of migration and settling in Quairading, visit Quairading and the goldfields, and access Museum and historic collections and colonial diaries. I will further examine my own ‘white’ past and my journey of self reconciliation- how I personally reconcile with issues of land dispossession, violence and racism.
19 December 2021