The runaway

Julie DOWLING: artist

Not On Display

About the work

When the Freedom of Information Act passed parliament in 1982, I
was thirteen years old. But I had to wait till I was eighteen to access
government records to find my lost family members, for my Mum and
Nana. One time, I came across a file that told of a boy who had run away
from the South West and was known to be travelling north via Payne’s
Find or possibly by the coast with First Nation people.
In my mind, I thought the child made it home and that his grandfather
was there to greet him; and that’s where he stayed. But as I turned the
pages, I discovered the little fella made it back home only to be taken
away again. His grandfather passed away some years later never seeing
his grandson again.
I also painted this because it was at that moment where I knew I had
grown into an adult. I had the realisation that I was looking through what
my family had endured. It was because they fought for my freedom that I
was able to speak back about the injustices they endured. By my access
to our family files we could find the hidden truth. Secrets about me, my
mother, grandmother and great grandmother were right there in front of
me; accessible.
The runaway
Artist/Maker and role
Julie DOWLING: artist
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
93.3 x 94.5 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.