Halloran Art Prize – JBMM

Respect This Place (After Uncle Laddie) 2022. Pipe clay, wattle gum, sap, aquarelle and billabong on paper. 37 x 55 cm unframed

The selection of materials for ‘Respect This Place (After Uncle Laddie)’ 2022 communicate my personal response to the Halloran collection (HC). As a local woman growing up in Vincentia, like my mother before me, I have a deep sense of belonging to this place shared with Aboriginal friends and mentors. A significant mentor, Uncle Laddie, gifted me the pipeclay featured in this artwork and his words and handwriting ‘respect this place’ inspired the work and feature on an object in JBMM. This work pays tribute to Laddie’s lifelong work as a cross-cultural teacher and activist based at JBMM.

The paper support was soaked and stained c.10 years ago in the billabong near my childhood home. It is a place frequented by both my mother and her brothers and my siblings and I as children. I feel the presence of my ancestral spirits here. My grandparents, Keith and Gloria Sheehy purchased land from Warren Halloran in c.1955 across from the creek that feeds this billabong. The HC features maps recording Warren’s ownership and sale of the land that created Vincentia village. I chose to represent the instruments of nautical navigation and terrestrial surveying in the HC, as they are symbols of the colonisation and subsequent land sales in Vincentia.

In the Shoalhaven, colonisation began with Alexander Berry pictured in ‘Respect This Place’ using his sextant from the HC. His body merges with the graphometer to become the instrument of colonisation. His words ‘For many years I have reaped my harvest’ also feature in JBMM. Opposing Berry is a stylised representation of an Aboriginal hunter inscribed on a whale tooth from the HC. Cupping the graphometer on the left is a drawing of the breast plate worn by ‘Budd Billy’, who also featured in the JBMM photograph of a local corroboree pictured.

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