Making her mark

Julie DOWLING: artist

Not On Display

About the work

This painting represents my great-grandmother, Mary Latham (née
Oliver). Stories of “Granny” were passed to us by our mother who dearly
loved her maternal grandmother.
In this paining, I show Granny learning to write her name which never
really happened. Throughout her life, Granny Latham had to ask more
literate people to write for her. As a Badimia woman, she was considered
by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in our country as a
truly remarkable woman. She could muster horses and cattle for long
distances. She could track lost children and identify poisonous plants
killing the stock of the white squatters. For Badimia people, she was a
healer, a mid-wife, a spiritual custodian or as our mother referred to her,
a shaman. Granny could speak several First Nation languages as well
as English. Yet, her children (our grandmother Mollie and Great-Aunt
Dorothy) were stolen from her. Without the ability to write, Granny was
limited in her capacity to stop officially sanctioned abduction of her two
youngest children.
I painted her idealised as a young woman surrounded by her
thumbprints and the ‘X’ mark around her head while she is practicing
writing her name.
Making her mark
Artist/Maker and role
Julie DOWLING: artist
synthetic polymer paint, red ochre, glitter and metallic paint on canvas
83.5 x 65.8 cm
Credit line
Gift of Brigitte Braun, 2017
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the paintings in our collection.


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