Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In the beginning...

Towards the end of the final decade of the final century of the last millenium, when everything was very very different...about 13 years ago...I first began to draw the characters Ned Kelly and Burka Woman side by side. Back then, I used to ponder on the similarity of their garb and the dissimilarity of their reasons for wearing such outfits. I was quite fascinated by my discovery, and their images appeared quite often in my notebooks.
Our family used to travel from our Wimmera home to the Eastern alps every year for holidays when I was a kid, and Dad never passed through Glenrowan without stopping outside the Ned Kelly museum. We loved the Big Ned Kelly statue in the main street of Glenrowan, as well as the statues on top of the shops depicting the shoot-out between Ned and the cops. Ned's story was our very own home-grown legend, like our own true version of a Western movie.
Then years later, I found myself teaching English to adults from lots of different countries in London. Two women in my class had been sent from Saudi Arabia by their husbands to learn Beginner's English. They would sit in my class dressed in full burqa, and I was fascinated. I was only 22 years old, and had never seen such garments in my rural Australian past. These women protested passionately when I attempted to take a class photo at the end of the course...another student in the class, a man also from Saudi, explained to me that generally women were not allowed to be photographed, only men.
Later on, whilst travelling for two years throughout Asian countries, I would see women in burqas sitting outside museums, temples, forts, palaces, mosques...Sometimes I would sit beside them outside these tourist places as they waited for their husbands to finish sightseeing inside, and I would ask them about their lives...
The short film above is called a True Story and a Love Story. At first I painted the war scenes in it in response to the invasion of Afghanistan and then Iraq, and called this a True Story. Then Ned Kelly happened to come along, and for Burka Woman...her horror story turned into a Love Story. The paintings from this film make up the first of the Ned and Burka series.

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