Thursday, March 16, 2017

Brand New Website and Blog! The end of this one...

Please head over to my new website. I've spent months working on it and I can't wait for you to see it. I've put up all my work, writing and a new blog. You can see it all by following this link. Don't forget to check out the blog page.

I'd love to know what you think.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

'Who's Afraid Of Colour?' at the National Gallery of Victoria

Happy New Year!

I hope you are enjoying the holidays. While you have the time, make sure to visit the National Gallery of Victoria to see 'Who's Afraid Of Colour?' which is on until April 2017. I have several works in the show including my 30 channel video installation 'We All Need Forgiveness'.

'Who's Afraid Of Colour?' brings together presentations by a broad range of Indigenous women artists, whose practice is unbounded by convention. It includes bold statement that explore colour and assert the politics of identity. Customary woven objects and modern works will jostle in the same space, with digital, synthetic and organic materials alternating unexpectedly. The poetics of mourning will oscillate with paintings of wondrous joy and photographs that expose Indigenous disadvantage and repugnant instances of institutionalised racism.

The exhibition looks at a number of major artists in depth, including Julie Gough, Destiny Deacon, Emily Kam Kngwarray, Bindi Cole Chocka, Queenie McKenzie and Nonggirrnga Marawili, from both city and bush studios, and features large bodies of work from the NGV Collection that have never been shown together before. Outspoken invention, risk taking and energy are palpable in works of Samantha Hobson and Claudia Moodoonuthi as are intimate moments of quiet reflection in the feather headdresses of Lisa Michl.

I hope you like it. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Fraud Complex - Next Wave Festival

Very interesting show opening next week as part of the Next Wave Festival.  My old photographic series - Not Really Aboriginal - has been reimagined for it.  Congratulations to all involved and I'm looking forward to being and seeing you there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Come to this amazing art tour of the Western Treatment Plant! It's free and going to be awesome and will fill up fast. I've created Scratch'n'Sniff cards and a new video work that I'm excited about. The other artists are Catherine Bell, Megan Evans (whose work I'm in love with), Shane McGrath, Techa Noble and Spiros Panigarakis.  The whole thing has been curated by David Cross and Cameron Bishop. Here's the flyer and the details:

The TREATMENT project has enabled six artists to explore and interpret the Western Treatment Plant.

The project tour provides an opportunity to explore the landscape, history, science and innovation at the Western Treatment Plant through art. Organised by Deakin University School of Communication and Creative Arts, and supported by Melbourne Water and Wyndham City Council, the artists have spent six months exploring the plant’s sights, sounds, textures and even smell to create their artwork.

Their artworks will be temporarily displayed at the plant during November with the free bus tours being used to move the audience throughout the site.

The art tour will be run over two days:

Dates: Saturday 14th & 21st November 2015
Bus Tour Times: 10am, 11.30am, 1pm, 2.30pm and 4pm. Tours are 80 minutes.
Location: WTP Discovery Centre, New Farm Road, Werribee

Melway Reference: 205 E12 (take the Princes Freeway exit after Werribee Zoo if travelling from Melbourne)

Cost: FREE 

Bookings are required. Bookings and enquiries should be directed via 131 722 or
  • The tours run for 80 minutes, staring and ending at the Discovery Centre
  • There's walking involved, it's not a fully accessible tour
  • Minimum ages do apply - children must be at least five years old
  • Clothing requirements apply and people won't be able to participate in tours if not in long pants/trousers and fully enclosed, flat shoes (not sandals)
See you there!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Shadowlife 2012-2013

Just a quick Friday afternoon post to share a video that was made recently about a group show I was curated into that toured through Asia in 2012-2013. It was a fantastic show curated by Djon Mundine and Natalie King. I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to travel to Singapore with the show. Loved the show, hated the trip! It was the worst trip of my entire life. I arrived sick with a terrible flu, was hospitalised because of an accident that is now affectionately referred to as the Great Boom Gate Incident of 2013 and contracted Giardia (essentially nuclear gastro) just in time for the flight home. Anyway, nasty trip details aside, I was thrilled to be included. Here's the video:


My artwork that toured with the show included my Not Really Aboriginal series and Seventy Times Seven Video. I don't think I've posted the Seventy Times Seven video before, so here goes. I hope you enjoy.

Seventy Times Seven from Bindi Cole Chocka on Vimeo.

Seventy Times Seven, Bindi Cole, 2011.
Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. It is a release from the burden of anger and pain. When you choose to forgive, you choose to live in the present and the future instead of the past. It does not mean to forget but it does mean to release and go on. 
I was a very broken person. When I look around at my community, the Aboriginal community, I see a lot of broken people. For me to stop being disempowered by the people and events in my life, my parents and my ancestors’ lives, I had to forgive. Forgiveness is the way to reclaim power lost. It doesn't happen on it's own, you must choose to forgive.
Everyone in this film is Aboriginal. We are choosing to forgive. Mercy is for those who don’t deserve it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Two Books And A Show In Benalla

It's been way too long between blog posts. I have a reasonable excuse, a 16 month old baby who is swiftly becoming a mini-man and a 22 week old baby girl in my tummy. There's been huge changes in my life and I'm finally feeling like emerging out of the cave of new Mummy hibernation. I must admit that it hasn't come easy. I didn't immediately feel like 'wow this is amazing'. It's taken ages to get to a place where I'm truly enjoying it and not through any fault of my gorgeous little boy. He's totally adorable. It was just really hard. Anyway, I'm there now though and glad I made it through. It's been a very transitional time in my life as well as foundational. Starting a family at almost forty years old has been a shock to the system after being careless and carefree for much of that time. It's funny how the thing we long for the most can sometimes be the most difficult to achieve.

So onto the news. There's been much I've failed to post to this blog. Forgive me. I've recently had two solo shows, the first titled 'I Am' at Shepparton Art Museum and the last titled 'Chrysalis' at Maroondah Art Gallery. Both shows exhibited similar work and I was pleased to have the opportunity to have work removed from my studio (garage) and put on display. In particular, the thirty channel video I made for the Sydney Biennale 'We All Need Forgiveness'. It was useless having thirty TV's in my garage, a burglar's dream and it took up way too much space.

They've both finished now but 'We All Need Forgiveness' is currently showing at the Benalla Art Gallery. It's on until the 9th August and I will be there on the 20th July for an artist talk. So please join me. Full details are here.

Even though I've been adjusting to being a twenty-four hour on-call slave (Mummy), I've also been busy working and writing. Firstly, I was commissioned by the NGV to create a one off edition of twenty artist books for the inaugural NGV Art Book Fair. The fair was a huge success and very cool (not in any way due to my spit up covered presence). However, there are still copies of my book, alongside some of the other commissioned artists, for purchase at the NGV Design store, in house and online.  You can check out all the books here or pop in to see them for yourself.

My book at the NGV 'Beauty For Ashes'
Speaking of books, I was invited by the Racial Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, to contribute to his new book 'I'm Not Racist But... Forty Years Of The Racial Discrimination Act'. I've contributed an essay alongside Benjamin Law, Alice Pung, Christos Tsiolkas and Maxine Beneba Clarke. I might post my contribution soon, in the meantime, you can purchase the book here. I'd love to hear what you think about it. It's an important book and so personal for me, being that I took Andrew Bolt and the Herald Sun to Federal Court and won under the RDA.

Awesome Book
Lastly, I'm spending the next few months making all new work for a couple of shows coming up towards the end of the year. I'm currently the PLANT artist in residence at the Werribee Treatment Plant (Poo Farm) and loving it. The site is larger than Phillip Island and so lush and fertile. I'm going in when I can and shooting the most amazing landscapes. These will be shown at Wyndham Art Gallery (where I currently have a piece in a group show called 'War') in November. I'm also due to give birth in November. But that's not all. I will be having a second solo show of brand new work at This Is No Fantasy as well. November is going to be a big month. Pray for me. I need it. Oh and one final thing. I'm starting a PHD next year at Deakin. You know, just 'cause I thought I didn't have enough of my plate. Until next time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's All About The Heart (Repost from The Guardian)

I thought I might republish the article I wrote a few months back for The Guardian that was published on Tuesday 29th April 2014. Here is the link to the original if you wanted to read the 353 comments in response to it. This was before the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 were scrapped. I'm so thankful they were. I hope you enjoy and feel free to let me know what you think.

George Brandis, who argued that Australians have a' right to be bigots'.
Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP
Everyone deserves the right to be free from discrimination. There is no place in our community for hateful, shaming, denigrating, humiliating and intimidating speech. It’s just not on, and I’m not sure how we arrived at a destination where some believe that this type of behavior is acceptable, or even an absolute right.
Whenever someone is granted his or her rights, someone else always has to lose theirs. This is true when we talk about the racial discrimination act (RDA). Yes, the RDA protects people and groups against the above type of abuse and I fully believe that this is their right. And yes, on the flipside, other people will have their right to be viscously bigoted removed, but surely this is a good thing in a world where people are fragile, sensitive, lonely, isolated and where minority groups abound; a world where bullying and suicide is an everyday occurrence and a huge problem. Not everyone has a thick skin, nor should they have to. With all this in mind, if we make the right to deeply hurt others a priority, what is that really saying about us as a whole?
This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place in our community to discuss anything controversial or offensive. There absolutely is. It’s just that we need to consider how we go about it. Many people talk, write, publish, share, perform, make art and debate on subjects that are difficult and uncomfortable every day, but they do it in a way that doesn’t offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate others, and lead them to federal court. In fact, if you read beyond Section 18C of the RDA you find that in 18D, there is provision for free speech on matters of race, as long as it is done "reasonably and in good faith" in practically any public situation, and that it is a "fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest".
To go beyond this, to contravene the RDA as it currently stands requires that you do much more than just publically present or discuss something racially offensive or controversial. This could include being factually inaccurate, distributing misleading and deceptive content, mentally or physically abusing those being discriminated against, reducing or removing the esteem or social standing of those people, influencing others to believe or condone the wrongdoing being perpetuated, and of course being racially prejudiced in all of that. 
It is imperative that those on the receiving end of this type of discrimination have a way to protect themselves and achieve some sort of vindication publically via the judicial system. This is a system that provides a protected and safe avenue for those who cannot speak for themselves and ensures justice for those being crushed.
There is free speech, and then there is the responsibility we all share as decent human beings not to savagely hurt others or incite hatred within the community. I believe we should be able to express offensive views, but feel that care needs to be taken that they are not misinformed, exaggerated and vicious. As a community we need to show and take responsibility for each other, not just ourselves and our loved ones, but the broader community as a whole.
Discrimination of any sort is just plain wrong. From personal experience, I’ve spent much time in tears, not wanting to leave the house, avoiding being in public and feeling a dark cloud of shame hanging over me. This is not because I felt as though what was said contained any truth, but because I’m a sensitive woman who wears her heart on her sleeve and who has found it very difficult to reconcile what is being said about me with who I truly am. Through the broad and powerful influence of public humiliation and discrimination, I’ve lost friends, acquaintances, community standing and professional opportunities. All this has left a scar in my life. The worst part of this is that the discrimination has come from people who have never once met me, talked to me, talked to anyone who knows me, or even tried to make any sort of contact with me at all.
But please note that is about more than just protecting people from hurt feelings. If you tried to take someone to court with "hurt feelings" as your pretense, I doubt you would get very far. These court cases take years, require rigorous investigation and need to be more than just a public discussion or presentation of something offensive (see section 18D). In fact, when read as a whole, the RDA does not restrict the airing of unpopular or unsavoury ideas but encourages them while protecting the community – particularly the vulnerable – from people taking these ideas to the extreme.
We only have one very short life. Do we really want to spend our time hardening our hearts and hating on each other? Is this the legacy we want to leave the next generations? Will we be grateful at the end of our lives that we spent our time spewing forth so much hate and hurt? Is all of this motivated by fear? Pride? These are very harmful and damaging things. However, to live a life where loving others is a priority, whether they measure up or not, and where sacrifice is a goal and compassion a valued quality, is the kind of life that leaves a heartfelt and genuinely important legacy. 
It’s all about the heart, for out of a person’s heart flows his whole life.

Friday, June 27, 2014

An Ocean of Joy and some art happenings too!

In my last post, I did promise to give you an update on An Ocean Of Hurt, so here it is. When I last wrote of my pregnancy journey, I had just miscarried for the second time after two years of trying to fall and stay pregnant. Well, two months after that, I fell pregnant again and just under four months ago, I gave birth to an adorable baby boy called Eli. Here he is:

The Missing Piece Of Our Puzzle - Eli
It's taken a while to come to grips with being a new Mum. Before I gave birth, I was so sure it would be easy enough. After birth, I realised how far off the mark I was. It's tough! Now, four months in, we've finally found a groove with it all and I'm loving being a Mum. My life is so different now that I finally have the little family I was dreaming of. Thank you God.

It truly was a heartbreaking journey but that has now ended in so much joy and a love in my heart that aches for this little boy. Anyway, enough mushy stuff.

The 2014 Sydney Biennale just finished and today I've taken return delivery of my installation 'We All Need Forgiveness' which means that there are now 30 TV's sitting in my garage. Sorry to demystify the whole white glove image of art but that's the truth of it. However, just to give it a little more shine, here's some photos I took of it while up in Sydney a few weeks ago.

Lastly, please do take the time to visit my solo show that is now on at Shepparton Art Museum. It's called I AM and it's on until the 10th August. I'm showing EH5452 and my newish 'Clouds Are The Dust Of His Feet Series' amongst other things.  I also have a brand new work titled #18C as part of that show which is all about the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act. I wrote a piece for the online paper 'The Guardian' on free speech and the proposed changes which you might like to read here.

Clouds Are The Dust Of His Feet #4

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and for those who are trying to have babies, hang in there!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

It's a Trifecta - Melbourne, Shepparton and Sydney!

It's been a while between posts which is not unusual for me. I diarise that I must update the blog and then I look at it for weeks, if not months and then finally, I get around to it. So here it is. More an informational update on magical happenings than a introspective reflection.

Firstly, I'm in Melbourne Now! The blockbuster directed by National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) head, Tony Ellwood. It's an amazing show. The best I've seen the NGV do and a very clever move indeed. I feel like this show has successfully managed to garner the support of the Melbourne arts community for the NGV which may have been a little bit lacking in the past. Regardless of all that, it's a show well worth seeing. Here's my work in the show, titled A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing. It's massive, 4m high by 3m wide and made up of three framed large scale photographic prints. Here's the NGV write up on it - Bindi Cole.

The show runs until the 23rd March 2014 and is completely free. Get yourself there yo!

Next up, I'm currently making a brand spanker of a work for the Sydney Biennale. For me, this is the most exciting artwork that I have ever made. It's a 30 channel video installation that will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW). It's titled We All Need Forgiveness and I'll post up a little teaser soon enough. As part of the opening week programming, I'll be in conversation with Juliana Engberg (Biennale Artistic Director) and Nathan ColeyClick for details.

Lastly, I'll be having a solo show at the Shepparton Art Museum titled Bindi Cole: I Am. Showing older work such as EH5452 plus more as well as a brand new video work. Also, I'm putting on a salon style work of current prisoners and post released prisoners artwork. The show will run from Friday 16th May to Sunday 10th August. More details to follow. That's probably it for now.

I'm planning a very exciting post which I'm itching to share but I'm just waiting for the perfect time.  It's a follow up to An Ocean Of Hurt.  So please keep your eyes out for that and while your at it, join my mailing list so that you can receive each new blog post in your email inbox.  Just pop your email in the box on the right hand top corner.  Go on do it!  Till next time, be free, happy and forgive.

Friday, September 20, 2013

On The Edge Of The Unknown

Hi everyone,

I'm hoping this blog post finds you loving life and smiling. I've got some great news. I'm just putting all the finishing touches to a whole bunch of new stuff I've made (with the help of my very patient and crazy for marrying me husband Dan). Last year I was part of a show in Sydney at the MCA called Taboo which was curated by Brook Andrew. For that show I made a new video piece called EH5452 that explored the transformative effect my time in prison had on me. In many ways I've continued on with that theme. Here's the write up for the new show:

EH5452 Video Still
Sometimes it can feel like there’s a part of your life that doesn’t even seem as if it was you that participated in it. Like it was a dream or something that happened to someone else. Yet it defined who you were, are, am. On the Edge of the Unknown explores the space between worlds. This is the space that defines you. A space where you decide whether to be a victim to that experience or if it will be the launching pad into your future. Embracing where we come from and the life we’ve lived is key to becoming whole in the present. On The Edge Of The Unknown is an attempt to alleviate all fear and shame associated with the past by bringing it into the light, staring it in the face and sharing it with the world, regardless of the consequences. It turns the dark, hidden and shameful into something light, revelatory and beautiful.

EH5452 Video Still
I'll be showing EH5452 which is what I exhibited in Sydney late last year but everything else in the show is new - new photography and installation.

So please join me to celebrate the opening of this show or come and visit while it's on. I'd love to know what you think, see your face and say hello.  




Friday, August 2, 2013

Is it a plane? Is it a bird? NO! It's a Melbourne Art Tram!

Very exciting news! I've been announced as having a winning design for one of the new Melbourne Art Trams. It's a program that was run years ago called Transporting Art. There's a great collection of photos of all the original trams here. Well now, Melbourne Festival has partnered with Yarra Trams to bring the program back under the new title of Melbourne Art Trams. To be honest, I didn't think I stood a chance. I thought my design might have been too simple but still, I was excited by it. Here's my mock up.
It is of course, just a representation of what it will look like. My intention is to photograph clouds from the air in as much glorious detail as possible and then create a fantasy cloudscape. Here's the little blurb I submitted with my mock up:

Lakorra is the Wathaurung word for sky. Once upon a time, Melbourne city would have been a flat and open expanse with a generous view of the sky above that would envelop you. You could have felt as if you were a small part of a larger world, a lovely feeling of insignificance and a reminder that it’s not all about self. Many Aboriginal people would have walked that land. From it’s traditional owners, the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung, to visitors such as my ancestors the Wathaurung. Today, the city is densely populated with skyscrapers and billboards dominating the landscape. As a regular visitor to the city, I see that the sky is often obscured. In place of that, I’m bombarded with advertising and consumerism with a constant focus on the self. 

Lakorra brings a bit of that sky and open expanse back into the streetscape. Conveying a sense of openness in a place that is now much more closed in, reminding everyone of a time before the city stood in it’s place and of a people who walked those streets long before they were streets. Lakorra allows you to ponder something deeper, more meaningful and greater than ourselves.

So yay!  Really looking forward to seeing it on the tracks.  It's head down, bum up, working away for a very swift delivery of the artwork so that they can be transporting passengers and art in October.

Other exciting news is that I have a solo show coming up at my favorite gallery - Nellie Castan Gallery.  The show is called 'On The Edge Of The Unknown'.  Here's a little sample image..

I will be including recent work from a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney called EH5452 as well as a whole bunch of new work.  

The show opens towards the end of September and I'll post more details before then.

Also, I should give a quick nod to the exhibition that's on at the moment at Queensland Art Gallery called My Country: I Still Call Australia Home. I've got quite a few pieces in that show from photographs to installation and I believe the show as a whole is getting rave reviews (not that I'm claiming my work is anything to rave about). It's on until 7th October, so if you are up there, do pop in. I will be there on the Thursday, 3rd October for one of their talks. More information here.

That's probably enough to get your head spinning. Feel free to email me, leave a comment, shout at the screen or just walk away.  Though if you see me in person, be kind and smile... 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

An Aussie Fair Go!

Recently I was invited to present a provocation at a Next Wave Collective special Breakfast Club meeting alongside Catherine Deveney and Ben Eltham. Next Wave Festival is a small organisation that produces massive awesomeness. I'm an alumni, having participated in the 2008 and 2010 festivals. When I was invited to speak, I jumped at the opportunity as I believe the festival deserves support. It's an amazing launching pad for emerging artists. My first exhibition with them was kind of controversial - my Not Really Aboriginal series.

Well, they supported me fully and as an artist taking risks, I truly appreciated it.

So I've posted my provocation for you all to enjoy.

An Aussie Fair Go: arts and the pursuit of opportunity in contemporary Australia. Does the rhetoric of our national identity match the reality when it comes to pay equity, reconciliation and refugees? What role can the arts play in empowering social mobility?

I just love being an Australian. Australians respect women, democracy, a wide range of diverse cultures such as English and American and our mates. We love to give each other a fair go. We’re a truly tolerant society and if you don’t get that, well, you can get back on the boat and go home! We will give you a fair go, unless we don’t like you, are afraid of you, it’s politically useful not to or it sensationalizes and sells newspapers.

So what is an Aussie Fair Go? It’s giving everyone an equal opportunity to a good life. It’s supporting the underdog, the one who’s not supposed to succeed because of their circumstances. And it’s seeing that good and honest hard work is rewarded.

I had a rough childhood. My mum was highly intelligent, beautiful and loving. She was also a heroin addict and prostitute. I don’t have to tell you what a little girl sees and goes through when she’s immersed in a life like that. By the time she died, when I was sixteen, I was well into drugs and crime, which was normal to me as that was what I had been around for most of my life. Fast-forward eight years and I was out of control, overdosing and on the brink of death.

It was then that I was sentenced to four years in prison for supplying drugs. I served two years and was released. This was a major turning point in my life. It was the opportunity I had needed for so long to clear my head of all the mess and dysfunction, to get access to emotional support, therapy and rehabilitation and work out what was important to me. I worked hard to become sane and free from addictions. I asked myself all the hard questions.  I also developed a deep faith in God. I dreamt of a future for myself for the first time in many years. I had a clear head and a new hope that I could have some sort of successful life. Within a year of being released, I was studying at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE doing a Diploma of Applied Photography and working part time. Soon after graduating, I began having small exhibitions of my photographs exploring personal identity issues. Next Wave was key to me moving forward as an artist through the opportunities they gave me. I was seeking a process of catharsis, trying to reconcile my own identity and hoping to create discourse around those issues. For the first time in my life, I had a voice. Art gave me a voice.

I thought I was having an Aussie Fair Go. Turns out that according to a certain Herald Sun columnist, that I was being opportunistic, calculating and manipulating. That I had constructed my identity to benefit me politically and career wise. That my fair go wasn’t actually a fair go, but stemming from a sense of my own entitlement. Having worked so hard to change my character, shift the circumstances of my life and lift myself out of a life of poverty and hardship, I was crushed.

So I joined together with others he attacked in the same way and we took him and his newspaper to the Federal Court. And after two long years of fighting, WE KICKED HIS BUTT. He lost and what was interesting to me about the case, was that in Federal Court, despite the life that I’d lived, my character was proven true while his was called into question.

Do we only accept someone striving to make a success of themselves when they do it within the parameters that we set for them? Maybe, once upon a time, we got behind people. But it seems that we are now more interested in tearing people down, finding anything at all to destroy their character so that we can determine that they are in fact, a bad and terrible person. What if we just celebrated people in all their glorious difference of opinion and understanding?

My Dad called while I was in the middle of writing the response to the topic, so I thought, I’ll read the question out to him and see what he says.

“All the ones that don’t pay equal pay, have no idea about reconciliation and don’t respect women for the work they do, well, if they keep doing it, they can get a slap over the head with a wet fish.”

Dad has got a great way of looking at things.

But enough of that. I kept making art and using it to have a voice and slowly, my life began to turn around. I never went back to the way I was before I went to prison. Faith in Jesus and art are the two main reasons. Art has been a form of therapy for me and a way up and out of the life I had known. Art was a platform from which I could launch off. It’s given me a whole new life. One where I am a person whose opinion is valid, heard, wanted and important. It channeled my energy in a healthy way and gave me confidence. Before I went to prison, I never looked anyone in the eye. My self worth was so low and I was completely filled with shame. Now, I stand before you, head held high with no shame, even though you know all about me.

So do the almost 30,000 men and women in prison across Australia deserve an Aussie fair go when they get out? I think they do. Even when someone has made a real mess of their lives, hurt people and stuffed things up, they still deserve it. Doesn’t that make them the underdog? The one who looks like there is no pathway to success. Art is a way and means out of dysfunction, low self worth, isolation and poverty. It’s an opportunity for everyone and anyone to have a voice, to be heard. Even someone like me: an ex-con, Jesus loving, clean and sober, white Aborigine.

So there you go.  Just to finish off I thought I might repost Ab Blaster 40,000 which is the work I made for the 2010 Next Wave Festival.  Ab Blaster 40,000, the secret to why all Aboriginal people are good at sports!


Friday, May 31, 2013

Dads Rule!

The other week, in the midst of a very painful time, my Dad (gorgeous and wonderful man that he is) decided to send me the original speech he wrote for my wedding. He wanted to cheer me up. He's a bit of a comedian and loves to get hold of a microphone. During the actual wedding, he swiftly threw aside his prepared speech and winged it. He was excellent. Poignent, funny and on point. I must admit, I was nervous about his speech, knowing he would relish the opportunity to embarrass me. He's the kind of bloke who shows his love and affection by taking the mickey out of you. And I wasn't wrong. Anyway, he did a swell job.

Dad and I in the hotrod on the way to the wedding..
On Wednesday, it was my two year wedding anniversary to my sexy, strong and super smart husband. He is my strength. With his and my Dad's permission, I've decided to continue our celebrations by sharing the original wedding speech with you. I hope you enjoy.

Ladies and Gentlemen. Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are holding this celebration and pay my respects to their Elders, their ancestors and the spirits of their ancestors. As father of the bride I have the pleasure of making the first speech. I have been given lots and lots of advice on what to say and what not to say such as keep it short, no smutty jokes, don’t get drunk before the speeches, no jokes during the ceremony, don’t embarrass me... etc. However it is over 20 years since I was allowed to say anything without being disagreed with, laughed at or ignored, so this is too good an opportunity to miss.

For those of you who don’t know me I’m Bryon, Bindi’s Dad and on behalf of my wife Jan and I, I would like to welcome you all here today to celebrate the marriage of our daughter Bindi to Dani. I would like to welcome Dani’s parents, his sister Anita, Bindi’s grandmother Rita, as well as all our relatives and friends. I know a lot of you have travelled considerable distances to be here. Before I go any further, I would just like to acknowledge some very important people that could not be here today. Your grandfather, Ron in California and your other grandfather, Stan in Queensland, send their love for you and Dani and wish you all the best for the future together. Your Nan is here looking over you and smiling.

Bindi, I wish your Mum could be here with you on this special day, but I know she is here in spirit and she would be so proud of you.

Dad during his speech..
Today, I must admit that I am the proudest dad in the world. I think that you will all agree that Bindi looks stunning. This is where I am supposed to say a few embarrassing things about her when she was younger, so I have prepared a list. Bindi was born on the 3rd of February, 1975, in the same hospital, delivered by the same doctor who delivered her Mum 21 years previously. I remember it clearly, the dawn was breaking as I held her in my arms for the very first time. Her name means Morning Star. I remember the time that I had to take Bindi into hospital because her arm was dislocated. She was about 18 months old and we had been playing wizzy dizzy's. I was swinging her between my legs and unfortunately her shoulder gave way. I was questioned by childrens services because they thought I might have been abusing her, I wasn't, but Bindi was put on a special diet because we had overfed her and she reminded everyone of the Michelin Man. Every time she opened her mouth, we put food in it. 

Bindi looks absolutely gorgeous doesn’t she but it doesn’t seem all that very long ago that she was running around the house naked, throwing her little tantrums and wetting her knickers leaving a puddle in aisle two of the supermarket. Just a typical teenager really. But time has really flown by and she’s been brought up to be decent, caring and honest or so she tells us. Truthfully, Bindi has grown into an amazingly talented, good looking woman that any father would be proud of.

Dad and I after the ceremony..
And now to Dani. Every Father hopes his daughter will find a reliable, sensible, and considerate partner and as much as you try not to interfere in their lives, you always hope your children will make the right choices in life. But Bindi chose Dani. Seriously though, I have a lot of respect for Dani. He is his own man, knows what he wants and is prepared to stand up for what he believes in. He is also a traditional man and I liked that he came to me and asked for my permission to ask my daughter to marry him. I knew that if I said no, Bindi would kill me, so I was happy to accept Dani’s offer of a carton of scotch as a bribe. 

To help you with your marriage, I thought I would give you some advice based on my many years of experience of married life. Marriage will teach you many things: loyalty, self restraint, obedience. I am still learning about all these things every day.
There is no problem in a marriage that can’t be overcome by one or more of the following:

I was wrong!
You were right!
I love you!
And the best one of all that I have found...

Yes Dear.

Finally, never go to bed in the middle of an argument. Be a man stay up, fight and then watch some sport. You’ve lost anyway so you might as well get it over with.
The actor Richard Burton once said ‘a woman accepts a man for what he is and then spends the rest of her life trying to change him.’ So, if we can all take one last look at Dani as we know him because Bindi’s remodelling work starts first thing in the morning.

I want to finish with one or two final thoughts. Dani, I know you will try your best to look after and care for Bindi, but if you have problems, tough, they are your problems, don’t come running to me. But seriously, marriage is the meeting of two minds, two hearts, two souls and in this case, two cultures. Macedonian and Aboriginal. It is clear that Dani and Bindi are a perfect example of this. May they be blessed with happiness that grows and with love that lasts and a peaceful life together. I wish them enjoyment for today, the fulfilment of all their hopes and dreams for tomorrow and love and happiness always. It is now my pleasure to propose a toast to the happy couple. Please be upstanding and raise your glasses to the bride and groom.

Question: Do you have a memorable Dad's wedding speech moment?

Monday, May 20, 2013

An Ocean Of Hurt...

I don't really know what this blog is for anymore. Is it for art? Is it for promotion of my art? Is it a progression of my artistic practice? Perhaps it's an artwork all in itself. Mostly today I want to share with you what I've been going through and how it's broken my heart.

Last week I miscarried. It's the second time in a year. It's left me confused. I don't understand. I'm fragmented/broken/shattered. Now I'm trying to put it all back together in a way that fits and somehow makes sense.

About three weeks ago I read out a letter I'd written for Women of Letters, it was addressed to the missing piece of my puzzle. My missing puzzle piece was the child I hadn't conceived yet. Here's the letter:

To my missing puzzle piece, 

You are so wanted. You are my heart’s greatest desire. In my secret place, you already exist. In my dreams I’ve seen you. You’re big and healthy and gorgeous, with big blue eyes. My husband and I have cried in anticipation of your conception. We’ve prayed tears of hope and faith that one-day you will be in our arms. We don’t know why it’s taking so long for you to join us and make us complete but we have faith that you will arrive at the perfect time. A small bundle of joy that we can love and nurture and find pleasure in. We already have your name; we just need your face.

When I was young, I thought that I could get pregnant anytime.  I don’t mean anywhere, like at the beach or the fish and chip shop or the skate park but I believed that just coming near a mans nether regions meant that I was going to get pregnant, it was as easy as zapping leftovers in a microwave.

As I got older, I had a few serious relationships and had myself put on the pill so I couldn’t get pregnant. I spent years on it. It messed with my hormones.

Then there came a point in my life where I developed a deep faith in God and I knew I didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted a husband and a family. I decided that I wouldn’t be with another man unless I knew that he would be my husband and the father of my children. More than that, I resolved that I would not sleep with him until I was married to him. I went old school.

Then I met him, Dan, your future Dad, and he wanted the same thing. So that’s what we did.  It was not easy.  But it was well worth the wait.  I learned so much through that experience and a trust developed between us that I had never felt before.

So two years ago we got married and went on our honeymoon. We were both so excited to begin trying for a family straight away believing that it was going to happen instantly. Well something did happen. I got thrush and a UTI. There had been so little downstairs activity for so long, it just couldn’t cope. So there we were, on our honeymoon in the hospital in Bali trying to explain what was wrong so that I could get antibiotics so that we could resume our lovemaking and baby conceiving.

And we did. However, I kind of went crazy bonkers psycho. I obsessed about it. Two months and 13 pregnancy tests later, I realised I had lost the plot.

To be honest, up until that point, I still believed it was easy. At 36 years of age, I was completely unaware of anything to do with fertility, ovulation and egg white mucous. Sorry to go there. At the risk of exposing my stupidity (which, just to clarify, is often mixed with moments of pure genius), I didn’t even realise that I had to time having sex with my husband to fall in line with me ovulating. I literally thought I could get pregnant at any time during my cycle.

All those years of being on the pill could have been avoided had I just been told that there was really only a window of a few days that I could fall pregnant in. The pill messed with my hormones. Seriously, I could have done with that information years ago.

So now, many dinners out have been spent discussing ovulating. It’s quite a mealtime topic and finally, I’m an expert or eggs-spert perhaps.  Sorry.

You already have a brother or sister. We’ve never met him or her either. They only made it to a few weeks old. But in our minds, we had dreamt their entire future lives with us. We were devastated when we miscarried. Cried for days. Couldn’t believe that it hurt us both so much. It really exposed our hearts and our vulnerability. How can you love something so much that doesn’t even exist?

We have such amazingly full lives but are keenly aware of something missing. We had been so excited that we told everyone. Then we had to tell everyone the bad news. It was hard but our friends and family sustained us. It brought us closer.

We learnt that so many people go through the same thing too but no one really talks about it. It’s weird. I don’t quite get why we’ve set up this miscarriage etiquette where we don’t tell anyone we are pregnant until we are at 12 weeks. Who are we protecting? I get that it’s hard to share bad news with people but in my experience, sharing it and being supported by the community around me was the catalyst for healing. If we share the good times, shouldn’t we share the bad? We are designed to be in empathy with each other.

Now of course, people will lovingly lean in towards me and ask me while giving a subtle nod to my tummy ‘How’s it going?’ I never know what to say. If you are a close friend and I can be inappropriate, I’ll say ‘Great, still shagging away’. Otherwise, I don’t really know how to respond. Something like, ‘Good, we’re enjoying trying’ might work. I’m never really sure whether they’re asking about how efficient we are at making babies or if I’m pregnant already. Perhaps I should seek clarification. So awkward.

I know the day is coming when I’ll be able to say yes, it’s gone so well I’m actually pregnant. Our prayers will have been answered and we will give thanks to God. I’m not sure I’ll be able to wait the 12 weeks before I blurt it out, I don’t even know if I want to. I’ll be too excited and I know now that whatever happens I’ve got great people around me who are going to sit with me in the good times and the bad.

But you, my precious little baby to be, will be growing in my tummy and I’ll feel you and we will bond, even before you see the light of day. I’ll be your Mummy and Dan will be your Daddy and we will speak to you and sing to you and dream of what you look like. And the very thing we’ve longed for will be our reality. Not just a dream and a hope but a child of our very own.

We already love you, the missing piece of our puzzle.

One day after writing this letter, I found out we were pregnant. We were so over the moon. We completely allowed ourselves to fully surrender to the pregnancy and fall in love with our child to be. We didn't reserve any part of our hearts for just in case. We trusted God and let our friends and family know. Then the inconceivable happened. Again.

The sadness has consumed me. I watched myself, my husband, my hope and my dreams sink into the deep unknown waters of an ocean of hurt. I'm struggling to resurface. Yet somewhere deep in my heart, there's a small voice that says, this isn't over, the journey is not finished. This is a bump in the proverbial road and, that at the end, my unborn family is still waiting for me.

How do we trust God when it seems like he is allowing our dreams to be shattered? Sometimes, we believe that because we are good people that bad stuff shouldn't happen to us. But life is both joy and pain, ecstasy and suffering. It is no different with God. However, with God, everything has a purpose. We just don't always get to see the purpose whilst in the midst of the suffering. Our vision is not clear, out thoughts are twisted. But if we don't turn away from Him, there will come a time when we see the purpose in the pain.  It's happened before in my life and it will happen again.

I'm not there yet.  I'm not sure I will be for a while.  But I will still believe.

Question: Why do you think we don't tell people we're pregnant until twelve weeks?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Upcoming Shows and talks...

A couple of interesting shows that I have work in are about to open and well worth having a look at.  The first is:

Make Up: painted faces in contemporary photography 
Monash Gallery of Art

I'm loving this show.  Portraiture is one of my all time favourite mediums and this show displays some beautiful examples.  This is the catalogue.

I'm also giving an artist talk, alongside Eric Bridgeman just prior to the opening, this Saturday at the MGA from 2pm.  I hope you can make it.

The second is:

Ghost Citizens: Witnessing the Intervention which opens next Thursday night, 16th May with a public program on Saturday 18th May that I'm in.  Should be a fantastic show.  Here's the flyer:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Seedtime & Harvest

Last year I had the privilege of working with the Centre for Contemporary Photography and the Royal Women's Hospital to create new new large scale photographic prints for the foyer of the new hospital building. I've got a bit of history with the hospital. I was born there and so was my Mum. In fact, I was born on my Mum's birthday (3rd February) in the same hospital (The Women's) and delivered by the same doctor. I was my Mum's only child, so you can imagine we were close. Also, my grandfather, aunties, uncles and many other of my family have been born there. A Melbourne girl and family through and through. So when I was asked to make this artwork I was elated.

I spent time at the hospital trying to discern the heart and the culture of the place. I got to meet amazing people like Jo and Terori who run the Aboriginal Women's Health Business Unit. After two weeks there, I came away fully invested and wanting to celebrate The Women's while acknowledging the past.

There's a great article by Liza Power in 'The Age' that goes into much more detail about the whole process and specifically talks of the hospitals history of forced removal of babies, what' they've done about it and where they're headed, something that was close to my heart. Have a read. In the meantime, here's some snaps of the work.
Seedtime, 2012.

Harvest, 2012.

Installation shot, 2012.

Installation shot, 2012.

With Helena (RWH) and Karra (CCP), 2012.