The Caste Collection (2020)
The Caste Collection is a series of works inspired by the vitriolic treatment of Aboriginal people of mixed heritage to diminish their persuasiveness in debate about racial issues in Australia. Each canvas is brutally divided into fractions or portions of white(ness) and black(ness). ½, 1/3, ¼, 1/6, 1/8 and so on.
This is my personal response as an Aboriginal woman, a Koori, a proud Gadigal mother and advocate for constitutional change. It is meant to reflect the stupidity, bigotry and racism that tries to diminish Aboriginal culture in Australia by this notion of diluting the amount of black or 'Blackness' in we humans. The collection is hugely inspired by Andrew Bolt and his insatiable need to try and call out Bruce Pascoe (amongst many others), a widely successful Blak Australian of scholarly merit and award, as less than Aboriginal because of his “diluted” heritage. Unfortunately for Bolt and people of his ilk, the attention brought about by the discussion only further reinforces the resolve of those in question and their Aboriginal Brothers and Sisters. No dilution of Blak is possible.
This Collection is made up of three distinct groups of work.
The first are distinctly Black and White to represent the black and white ancestory of an individual. The coloured dots are made of ‘skin tonal colours’ identified by the paint company Matisse. These different skin colours represent the supposed ‘dilution’ or perceived imperfection in both the black person and the white. As “they” (whoever they are) say, nothing is ever simply just Black and White.
The second have been painted in panels of black and natural ochre and pigments. The works produced in this group represent the natural world and indeed how obtuse it is to nominate an amount of Black in that natural world. It cannot be a “part” thereof, it just doesn’t work, yet at some level it does work to include Black. In this group I hope to provide pause and reflection on whether or not black is or is not obtuse to the canvas and its natural inhabitants painted atop or if indeed I should have include slices of white?
The third are deliciously simple. Each canvas is wholly drenched in local ochres and pigments to illustrate how harmonious nature is when it is at one with its creator, mother, Earth.