Birthday girl

Julie DOWLING: artist

Not On Display

About the work

At Mogumber Mission, the authorities separate the babies and children
from their parents. Birthdays were seldom celebrated within the many
missions and orphanages in Western Australia for First Nations children.
I painted this picture to represent the possibility of a young child being
given bread and butter pudding (at the very least) on her birthday. I
imagined that she could have two of her friends with her to celebrate.
The sad thing is that this story is true. Such a story was told by my Great
Aunt Dorothy Nannup to my Nana. Birthdays are creations of another
culture anyway.
In our culture, a child is celebrated every day of its young life. They are
never hit or spoken harshly to. They are surrounded by family and learn
from older children and elders until they reach maturity. It is then that
a ceremony marks the move from childhood to adulthood. It provides a
clear transition. We also believe that elders and children are closer to
the Dreaming.
Birthday girl
Artist/Maker and role
Julie DOWLING: artist
synthetic polymer paint, red ochre and blood on canvas
91.5 x 61.0 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1996
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the paintings in our collection.