Off to the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Brisbane, to experience a 2 hour session with the curator and one of the artists of the current exhibition ‘My Country, I still call Australia home: Contemporary Art from Black Australia’.
A day out for me, feeling excited and full of potential.
I am a full time mother.
I am a full time student, studying visual art at TAFE, excited to learn some more about art.
However, just across the border at my closest train station, I am about to be refused a concession ticket with my student card because I study in New South Wales and not in Queensland where the rail system is. I explained to the kind man that I cannot travel by train to Sydney because it’s over 10 hours south, so I was travelling to Brisbane.
I am still a full time student from the financial perspective, regardless of where I live.
It is what it is and I reluctantly accept his authority. I do have choice, but i don’t want to miss ‘my’ day out, nor the indigenous seminar.
He is enjoying the power vested in him, behind his little glass counter.
I pay over double student fare prices and go to the toilet and talk myself half way calm and attempt to laugh at myself for the ridiculousness of feeling prejudiced against.
I am going to see the art of the people who have been prejudiced against since 1770. Put it in perspective woman.
So I let it drop (ish) and get on the train. Cutting it fine, because I will arrive at the time that the session begins. Three stations out from my stop, all the passengers are informed that the electricity is down into Brisbane and we will be stopping until repaired. Naturally, the repairs take way long and I feel myself re-agitating. I write, as talking to one’s self on a crowded train reminds me of my judgement of people who have done that.
Eventually, after the passengers connecting to the airport have been removed to other arrangements and other passengers, who decide they can manage better on their own, alight, the train begins its slower journey into Brisbane. It is now an hour later. I have missed half of the presentation and need to find my group who are already within the gallery.
The curator Bruce McLean introduces and interviews, Dale Harding, an artist from the exhibition. Dale uses found objects to tell his story, the stories that he has been told by his grandmother. These are not happy stories, but it is what happened.
Early in his introduction of himself, Dale asks for our support of aboriginal artists, to be able to tell the stories, to continue the work that needs to be done, to awaken us to the stupidity and atrocities of colonial Australia, the past of this country.
Indigenous Australians are 2%. We talk about being multicultural, but we cannot even accept our own nation’s culture. We still do not support our original culture. Do we know how? And if we do, why are we not creating change? Why is the health of our indigenous population nowhere near close to the health of non-indigenous Australians?
I put myself temporarily in the skin of his grandmother and I am sad to the core. I have no idea. She has however, been instrumental in supporting her grandson, Dale, to keep the history alive. I found his work beautifully tragic. It is a part of many tragic stories that is the history of black Australia.
Go see the exhibition and see with your own mind.