Great Southern Land

Artist's Statement

I am an archetypal inhabitant of modern Australia. Like so many others, I was brought here on a boat, against my will. Or at least, at nine years old, without a say in my destiny. Like so many before me, I am white and female, of European, partly Celtic, descent. Like so many others, throughout my childhood, "home" was half a planet away and something for which my mother - and I - mourned daily.

Like most Australians, I am a fringe dweller. We hug the coast, living for the summer and the glow of the beach, the glint of sun on the surf's glass. I live in inner-city Melbourne, pulled by the excitement of people, the bright lights and energy of the crowd. Four million of us, seemingly huddling together against the vast red emptiness at our backs.

Like many Australians, I seldom see the real bones of the landscape of my country. Sometimes, perhaps, from the window of a car or a plane or on the screen of movie. Only very rarely do I look at it with my own eyes. And yet, like most Australians, I am filled with great love for this place. It is a love carried within, a part of us.

When I returned to live in the land of my birth, I understood that attachment to place - my profound love for the curving creek bed, the tree branch angled in welcome, the insolence of mountains - was part of me, no matter where I lived. I carried the hard-won love of the southern land within me to the Middle East and thence to the northern land of my birth. It informs all my work.