Back when I was young and we had opened our businesses, had our first baby and were living in Cairns (1980's) I was blown away by an exhibition of work by Dick Roughsey and Percy Treszise. These two artists had collaborated to produce one of the first books for children about Aboriginal creation stories. I bought a copy of the book, which all of my children loved, and wanted to buy the paintings of the illustrations. BUT. The biggest but was the cost. I just didn't have that amount of money to spend. The next biggest but was that they were all painted on paper and living in the tropics I knew I couldn't look after them. They would get mouldy and damaged. So I put what money I had into a couple of other paintings from the exhibition. These were on board and I knew they would stand up to the climatic conditions.
The first was a basket ball game between Mornington Island and Doomadgee.
The second was children gathering wildflowers.
I have carted these painting around with me for years. At our old home in New Farm they were hung as the first thing you saw when you opened the front door. They reminded me of my time in the Northern Territory and the wonderful aboriginal people I met there.
Fast forward 30 years. Walking from the coffee shop in the main gallery ( Queensland State Art Gallery) I spied an exhibition of the works of Goobalathaldin - Dick Roughsey.
The first thing I saw were all those painting of the illustrations for the book I couldn't buy 30 years ago. They had been obtained by the University of Queensland who made sure that they stayed in pristine condition. Aboriginal Culture has many stories about the time when volcanoes were active in Australia. (The shortest time frame for this would be 7,000 years ago.)
I walked around reliving my young adult life again. Dick had gone onto paint many pictures of his life on Mornington Island. There were some traditional paintings there as well.
Of these I was taken with the cross hatching in the background which is very similar to the work of the artists at Yirrikalla, where I had lived in the Northern Territory. On reading the catalogue I found that he had been there to learn from those people. Now, living on Coochiemudlo Island, I find that those same people have been down here teaching the Noonuckle people how to hunt and other traditional practices that the missionaries had stopped.
It would appear that my paintings are now worth a considerable amount of money, but I would never sell them they are too important to me. Thinking about how I hadn't bought the book illustration paintings, I remembered another exhibition I had seen about contempory aboriginal textile art called "A floating Life". There was some beautiful jewllery and the work of some of the Tasmanian artists had really touched me, but again it was a bit expensive. When I thought about it, it wasn't expensive when you considered the amount of time and effort that went into creating it.
Such things of beauty from shells. There is an old photo of Truganini c.1866 wearing one of these necklaces.
I went back and purchased a bracelet made by a descendant of Truganini, Lola Greeno.
It is made of Black Crow and Mireener shells. When I save enough I will also get a necklace like Truganini's.