My great grandmother’s portrait is shown in a heroic portrait traditionfound in Europe and America.This picture is about my history as valid by using those styles honouredby Non-First Nation art critics and historians.“Mary (2001) shows her great-grandmother, the daughter of Melbin andEdward and the mother of Mollie, as a young girl working in the pastoralindustry in the Gascoyne area of Western Australia. Mary presents aproud and beautiful figure. Accompanied by a dingo – Australia’s wilddog – she has caught a goanna for food, or ‘bush-tucker’. The paintingis reminiscent of representations of Diana the huntress or of MaryMagdalene in the wilderness. The artist drew inspiration from Murillo’sThe Esquilache immaculate conception (1652) from which the picturetakes its baroque atmosphere.20 This fine painting, overlaid withreferences to Western mythical and religious traditions, renders thefamiliar unfamiliar, endowing the painting with a haunting uncanniness.Aboriginal people were among the most efficient and expert workersin the pastoral industry, providing some of the best shearers andshepherds. Their role as pastoral workers has not been recognised in thenational history, which celebrates Anglo-Celtic labour. Many Australiansare not aware that historically, Aboriginal people worked in a wide rangeof occupations in the pastoral industry.” (Jeanette Hoorne Strange fruit:Testimony and memory in Julie Dowling’s portraits 2007)
Artist statement, 2018My great grandmother’s portrait is shown in a heroic portrait tradition found in Europe and America. This picture is about my history as valid by using those styles honoured by Non-First Nation art critics and historians.