herstory

Kallista 1957

Introduction

1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

Art studios

I make art with Mum.

1959 poster for Bill's studio

Mum works with Bill Onus in his studio down the hill. I watch through the door as she burns designs into wooden boomerangs and cuts stencils for silk screen printing. Bill has a son called Lin. He's about my age. We play outside. Mum brings work home and I learn to use her electric 'red hot poker' to burn designs on boomerangs.

 

Tiriki Onus, Lin Onus's son, on video
in the First Peoples exhibition, Melbourne Museum

December 31, 2016

Today I reconnect with my mother through this boomerang in the First Peoples exhibition at Melbourne Museum. This boomerang is painted with designs that she learnt from Bill Onus. I watch a video of Bill's grandson Tiriki (pictured) explaining how Bill made art not just to carry him, but to carry everyone forward. If you were an Aboriginal and wanted to work for Bill, you could.

Seeing this reconnects me to memories of my mother drawing and painting Bill's designs on fabrics as well as on boomerangs, and memories of her feeling encouraged by Bill to make art.

Since childhood I was told that Indigenous ways of connecting are available to everyone, and that the most powerful way is through the arts. I like how this description of Indigenous experience transcends differences in experience, training and belief.

The "dreaming" is not a set of beliefs which is being lost because it is nolonger valid, it is rather a way of talking, of seeing, of knowing, and a set of practices, which is as obtuse, as mysterious and as beautiful as any poetry...it depends on people living in the country, travelling through it and naming it, constantly making new stories and songs.

Benterrak, K., Muecke, S., Roe, P., 1984, Reading the Country, p. 14, Freemantle Arts Centre Press

 

Tom's studio, circa 1925.

Tom's studio is in the garden of "Talisman" and I play there with Mum. She makes clag by quickly mixing flour and boiling hot water until she gets a clear smooth paste. We sit together on the studio floor and paste scraps of coloured paper onto glass jars. When that's dry we paint black lines between the its. Dusty old canvas stretchers and tubes of oil paint are scattered about. I get Alizarin Crimson on my fingers and spread little marks on the doorknobs all through the house. I still love that colour.

 

Albert Namatjira, the Aboriginal artist, goaled for six months with hard labour for supplying liquor to fellow Aboriginals.

On the Beach by Neville Chute published.

Margot Fonteyn toured Australia as the guest of the Borovansky Ballet.

The Australian Almanac, Pub. Angus & Robertson 1985