2000/0012 Uncle Freedom

Uncle Freedom

Artist

Julie DOWLING
Aboriginal/Indigenous
Birth:
30 Jan 1969
 in
Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia

Artwork

Title
Uncle Freedom
Date
2000
Medium/Material
synthetic polymer paint, oil and ochre on canvas
Dimensions
100 x 120 cm (Height x Width x Depth)
Credit line
Purchased through the Sir Claude Hotchin Art Foundation, Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2000
State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession Number
2000/0012
Currently not on display

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Extended Label

My male ancestors were resistance fighters on Badimia country in thecentral west of Western Australia. Around 1870s, white squatters beganto take our land to run sheep and then mine for gold. They would shootus if we were not in western clothing or when we took their sheep forfood. A common practice was to poison our waterholes which were veryrare in our country. Our men formed warrior groups who fought to runthese invaders from our land. Many men died. Those captured, includingmy menfolk, were sent to Rottnest Island Native Penal Settlement.Many Badimia/Yamatji men are now buried there in unmarked graves.Some warriors escaped from Rottnest, while others lived out their term,returning to their stolen country decades later. Rottnest Island is now aholiday destination.Badimia women are very strong. When their men dramatically decreasedin number, the brutality shown to them by wudjulah (white) men waswidespread. Badimaya girls, as young as ten, having survived thebutchering, were kept as shepherdesses or guides to find water. Theywere subjected to every kind of abuse. My great-great-grandmother,Melbin, was one of those girls. She was taken to England as an exhibituntil one day she told her white master, “find one of your own kind” andran away.Their daughter, my great Granny Mary Latham (née Oliver) was a slavefor her white father in his hotel called “The Shadow of Death”. She tendedtraveler’s horses and looked after her father’s new children to a whitewoman. She learnt how to use a gun, and then no one would touch her.I painted this picture because I love my family, they tell me the truth. I’mBadimaya and not an ‘Australian Aboriginal’.

Artist statement, 2018My male ancestors were resistance fighters on Badimia country in the central west of Western Australia. Around the 1870s, white squatters began to take our land to run sheep and then mine for gold. They would shoot us if we were not in western clothing or when we took their sheep for food. A common practice was to poison our waterholes which were very rare in our country. Our men formed warrior groups who fought to run these invaders from our land. Many men died. Those captured, including my menfolk, were sent to Rottnest Island Native Penal Settlement. Many Badimia/Yamatji men are now buried there in unmarked graves. Some warriors escaped from Rottnest, while others lived out their term, returning to their stolen country decades later. Rottnest Island is now a holiday destination. Badimia women are very strong. When their men dramatically decreased in number, the brutality shown to them by wudjulah (white) men was widespread. Badimaya girls, as young as ten, having survived the butchering, were kept as shepherdesses or guides to find water. They were subjected to every kind of abuse. My great-great-grandmother, Melbin, was one of those girls. She was taken to England as an exhibit until one day she told her white master, 'find one of your own kind' and ran away. Their daughter, my great Granny Mary Latham (née Oliver) was a slave for her white father in his hotel called 'The Shadow of Death'. She tended traveler’s horses and looked after her father’s new children to a white woman. She learnt how to use a gun, and then no one would touch her. I painted this picture because I love my family, they tell me the truth. I’m Badimaya and not an 'Australian Aboriginal'.

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Vernon id: 15374