Julie DOWLING: artist

Not On Display

About the work

My 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.
“Mary (2001) shows her great-grandmother, the daughter of Melbin and
Edward and the mother of Mollie, as a young girl working in the pastoral
industry in the Gascoyne area of Western Australia. Mary presents a
proud and beautiful figure. Accompanied by a dingo – Australia’s wild
dog – she has caught a goanna for food, or ‘bush-tucker’. The painting
is reminiscent of representations of Diana the huntress or of Mary
Magdalene in the wilderness. The artist drew inspiration from Murillo’s
The Esquilache immaculate conception (1652) from which the picture
takes its baroque atmosphere.20 This fine painting, overlaid with
references to Western mythical and religious traditions, renders the
familiar unfamiliar, endowing the painting with a haunting uncanniness.
Aboriginal people were among the most efficient and expert workers
in the pastoral industry, providing some of the best shearers and
shepherds. Their role as pastoral workers has not been recognised in the
national history, which celebrates Anglo-Celtic labour. Many Australians
are not aware that historically, Aboriginal people worked in a wide range
of occupations in the pastoral industry.” (Jeanette Hoorne Strange fruit:
Testimony and memory in Julie Dowling’s portraits 2007)
Artist/Maker and role
Julie DOWLING: artist
oil on linen
150 x 120 cm
Credit line
Purchased through the Contemporary Art Group, The Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2002
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the paintings in our collection.