Your work references harbours and that iconic hero pose looking out onto the water, and you also mentioned you’ve had some visits to Fremantle while you’ve been in residency here, have you felt the same connection here? Given that they are miles apart?
My connection to Botany Bay began from childhood where I always travelled to La Perouse to visit my family. I’ve felt a sense of comfort when overlooking the seascapes, ships and the ports from the views of La Perouse and Yarra Bay beaches. When I first visited Fremantle, I walked along the ports and felt all these memories coming through of my childhood where I’d see many large structures of metal and ships as well as the smell of ocean.
I did notice that the colour of the ocean is quite different from back home and it was this moment that brought me back to Perth to understand the different stories and histories that these waters have witnessed in time. There are also different experiences between home and Perth where (from back home) I would see the sun rise above the water, and in Perth, I would see the sun sets above the water. These are both mesmerising experiences and I feel that this will translate my work differently in many ways.
Wherever you go, you seem to be quite imbedded in community – I understand you’ve been working on community projects back home as well as the passion you’ve shown for your upcoming open studio here… How important is community to your practice? Or your practice to the community?
I always acknowledge the importance of community because I’ve grown up learning that community opens the conversation about identity and culture and history. I spent my childhood growing up in Redfern where I learnt much about my history from my aunty’s, grandparents and mum, and it was through these memories that I knew how important it was to listen to our elders. I valued this type of learning through my experiences in the workforce and especially in university which is another form of community that has helped to develop my creative practice.
I also feel that it is important to engage with many communities, especially with our young people to share experiences and teach what you’ve learned so that it continues to encourage, inspire and educate our next generations.
How would you describe the feeling of putting on the capes, and why is this important when we’re talking about identity?
I relive my childhood every time I put on the capes as it gives me a sense of power and confidence. This can often be played into many parts of our identity which aim to strengthen representations of race, culture, gender, and history.
What is the effect of the symbols you have created on portraying this identity?
The symbols work as a cultural reference to parts of my identity and history but are often read with a different representation in the way it has been attached onto a cape and worn on the back of an Aboriginal figure. You begin to consider different meanings of the symbols and how it relates to contemporary experiences of Aboriginal people.
If you had a superhero name and a theme song, what would they be and why?
I call this figure (in my work) – the Super Aborigine! and the theme song would be ‘Let’s Dance’ by David Bowie because it’s JUST FUN!