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Foreword

Blacktown Arts Centre is proud to present an exhibition of both new and old work by two of the region’s most celebrated and distinguished Aboriginal artists, reflecting Blacktown City Council’s commitment to the support of the regions’ artists and the development of contemporary cultural activity. The Council takes a leading role in supporting art and culture both locally and across western Sydney. Thaya Giwiirr and Yatama Nigimali, perhaps better known as Jake Soewardie and Danny Eastwood, have had long and impressive careers in the arts, working tirelessly to create public and commercial artworks, community collaborations and as art educators in a wide range of institutions. Their artworks have attracted numerous awards, including the Parliament of New South Wales Aboriginal Art Prize and Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, and they have exhibited at prestigious venues nationally and internationally, including Darug Coming Together at the Australian Museum, and Small Treasures at Pataka Museum, marking the 25th anniversary of the Sister City relationship between Blacktown City and Porirua City, New Zealand. In 2006, Jake and Danny participated in the Crossing Cultures project, culminating in exhibitions at the ADF Academy Library in Canberra and Blacktown Arts Centre, linking Aboriginal communities in western Sydney and Papunya Tjupi in the North Western Desert. Born in Redfern, Jake has lived his whole life in Sydney, and is a descendent of the Kamilaroi Nation. Danny identifies as a Ngemba man of the Gamilaraay Nation, and grew up mostly in Sydney, with his early life in Redfern and Waterloo. The artists have chosen to use their Aboriginal names for The Good, The Bad and The In-between, an exhibition which moves between positive and negative reflections/ outlooks and artistic strategies. The works reflect the artists’ chequered memories of landscape, people and occurrences; and their present speculations on the injustice and discrimination towards Aboriginal people past and present. Jake and Danny are gentle giants of the community but they find a powerful voice in their work, often laced with wit and humour.

Paul Howard Curator Visual Arts


Captain Cook’s Endeavour, Yatama Nigimali (Danny Eastwood)

Non Event, Thaya Giwiirr (Jake Soewardie)


Jake’s Long Shadow 1 Art was a way of expressing yourself – when you feel trapped, when you’re illiterate – I mean some people write books and such. It gives me freedom in my head.2 Art can provide a universal translating device in cross-class and cross-cultural interactions. The artwork in the exhibition is by two long-time male artist residents of western Sydney: Danny Eastwood and Jake Soewardie. Both have led interesting lives and both can paint. In 1943, the Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, Daryl Lindsay, stated that Australian painting was at a low ebb.3 Danny Eastwood was born in Sydney in 1943. Danny’s family comes from out northwest NSW, being a Ngemba man of the Gamilaraay nation; his totem is the galah bird called Gillawarna. Danny was born in Sydney in 1943, one of seven children, and lived in the inner city until he was thirteen years old, when his family moved to the outer suburbs of Sydney where he has lived ever since.4 Redfern/Waterloo was then a slum, rat-infested bughouse that was thankfully pulled down. But then heaven can be a place on Earth if we choose it to be. Although he says he has been an artist since the age of four, Danny had completed a TAFE course in his early to mid-teens that revealed his drawing talent and he also learnt printing and teaching skills. As a shy boy he’d learnt to let his art do the talking. Danny has used these skills ever since, returning to TAFE as a teacher and running art courses in correctional centres. Danny was chosen to be the NSW NAIDOC Aboriginal Artist of the Year in 1992 and received the National NAIDOC Award in 1993. In 2008 his modest My Reconciliation painting (a nostalgic image of children playing in an inner city lane) won the Parliament of NSW Aboriginal Art Prize. He is famous for his role as the political cartoonist for the Koori Mail, a national Indigenous newspaper. I paint every chance I get. I started because I thought it was a better way to express myself and tell my stories.5 Jake Soewardie of the Kamilaroi people from around Tamworth, was born in Redfern, Sydney in1948. Naming can be important in defining who you are. The first action in colonialist assimilation was to give native people European names (see Robinson Crusoe). And it has been seen as a statement of Aboriginal identity to use Aboriginal names and your Aboriginal group, as here. Both artists are quite comfortable and see no ambiguity in painting in a western style. Jake got his name from a Dutch stepfather who was deported after WWII. He says he never really knew his father. His family moved to the Blacktown area in the 1950s, and Jake has lived here from 1958 with a few gaps in-between. Largely self-taught, Soewardie has been practicing art since the late 1960s when in Goulburn gaol. He borrowed material from other inmates and originally used enamels. All of his paintings from this time look like glossy finished photographs. His life is a mixed blessing of great freedom in one way, but also of life in a series of institutions with varying degrees of comfort and experiences. His themes are around landscapes of nostalgic memories of his younger years and prisoner’s paintings of space and freedom. As a young Kamilaroi lad I worked as a dairy farmer’s labourer down in Wodi Wodi country, way back in the early 1960s, at places such as Kangaroo Valley and Kangaloon. They have a heavy influence on my work.6

Like Danny Eastwood, Jake also worked in many jobs and as an arts teacher and coordinator in conjunction with the NSW Department of Education and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Both artists have shown a new life in this exhibition series: Jake Soewardie’s historical references (David’s Death of Marat and Goya’s Third of May); and Danny Eastwood’s Stolen Generation a complex black and white image that reminds me of The Tower of Babel scene from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. And yet there’s Jake Heke, casting his long shadow over everyone… Jake’s Long Shadow is the third and final book of the Once Were Warriors trilogy by Alan Duff.7 It talks reflectively of the shadow of everyone’s past, the people you’ve interacted with, for good or bad, their influence, its lessons and limitations. The past is just a shadow, it will vanish in the light. There have been any number of male paired teams throughout history and our lives, such as the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Batman and Robin, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Two Grumpy Old Men, colonial explorers Eyre and Wylie, Kennedy and Jacky Jacky. And of course literary figures: George and Lennie in Of Mice and Men. Lives of poverty, the ‘other’, and prison are illuminating in how we understand and treat each other (see the diary of prison life in The Ballad of Reading Gaol,8 and Eldridge Cleaver’s seminal defining Soul on Ice).9 The ability to tell your story is the true measure of the artist. And so, to these two quiet, unassuming, Aboriginal men (artists). They are both technically competent artists but the technique of expressing your inner thoughts is possibly what makes an artist. Art should be a device to lift our spirits and through it we can come to understand each other, to know each other and relate to each other. Art expresses your dreams. Through their new series of artworks, they express their striving for respect, security, and acceptance; acceptance as oppressed, dispossessed Aboriginal men, and acceptance as intelligent, thinking adult human beings. They strive to tell their story in art, though held back and disempowered temporarily here and there in their lives by educational, economic, historical and social barriers. Black men can jump – they jump barriers daily.10

Djon Mundine OAM

Jake’s Long Shadow, Alan Duff, A Vintage Book, Published by Random House Australia Pty Ltd, Sydney, 2002. Interview with the artist Jake Soewardie, 2013. The Argus, Melbourne, 1943. 4 Interview with the artist Danny Eastwood, 2013. 5 Interview with the artist Jake Soewardie, 2013. 6 ibid. 7 Once Were Warriors, Alan Duff, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, first published in 1990. 8 The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Oscar Wilde, Mentheun & Co. Ltd, London, Ninth Edition. 9 Soul on Ice, Eldridge Cleaver, Panther Books Ltd, London, 1970. 10 White Men Can’t Jump, (film) 20th Century Fox, 1992. 1 2 3


The Emu Hunter, Yatama Nigimali (Danny Eastwood)

Feeling Within, Thaya Giwiirr (Jake Soewardie)


A Nation is Born, Thaya Giwiirr (Jake Soewardie)

Sacred Water Hole, Yatama Nigimali (Danny Eastwood)


Tyranny and the re-emergence of the people, Thaya Giwiirr (Jake Soewardie)

Crucifixion, Yatama Nigimali (Danny Eastwood)


The Enlightenment, Thaya Giwiirr (Jake Soewardie)

The Dancer, Yatama Nigimali (Danny Eastwood)


The Last Desert Tribe, Yatama Nigimali (Danny Eastwood)

Misinformed, Thawarr Giiwiirr (Jake Soewardie)


List of Works Yatama Nigimali (Danny Eastwood) Captain Cook’s Endeavour Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 77cm, 2013 Crucifixion Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 91cm, 2013 Invasion D-Day Acrylic on canvas, 110 x 92cm, 2013 Sacred Water Hole Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 110cm, 2013 Men’s Business Acrylic on board, 245 x 124cm, 2013 The Kangaroo Hunter Acrylic on board, 110 x 92cm, 2013 The Emu Hunter Acrylic on board, 110 x 92cm, 2013 Returning to Blacktown Acrylic on canvas, 150 x 100cm, 2008 Three Women Friends Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 91cm, 2013 The Last Desert Tribe Acrylic on board, 180 x 60cm, 2010 Women’s Business Acrylic on canvas, 130 x 100cm, 2008 Two Hunters Acrylic on canvas, 80 x 55cm, 1980 The Dancer Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 60cm, 2012 Two Serpent Spirits Acrylic on canvas, 1000 x 75cm, 2013 ,

Albert Namatjira Lino print, 44 x 55cm, 2012 Confrontation and Justice Lino print, 44 x 55cm, 2013

Thaya Giwiirr (Jake Soewardie) Tyranny and the Re-emergence of the People Acrylic on canvas, 1670 x 1670cm, 2009 A Rocky Road for Lady Liberty Acrylic on canvas, 610 x 910cm, 2012

Non Event Acrylic on canvas, 910 x 610cm, 2012 Down on Their Luck Acrylics on canvas, 1015 x 760cm, 2012 A Nation is Born Acrylic on canvas, 910 x 1220cm, 2012 Dusk on the Savannah Oil on canvas, 1215 x 910cm, 2012 Spirit of the Billabong Acrylic on canvas, 605 x 760cm, 2012 Journey’s End Acrylic on canvas, 1200 x 600cm, 2012 Misinformed Acrylic on canvas, 610 x 760cm, 2012 The Enlightenment Acrylic on canvas, 1000 x 745cm, 2012 Campsite Acrylic on canvas, 610 x 910cm, 2012 Feeling Within Acrylic on canvas, 610 x 760cm, 2012 Google Dreaming Acrylic on canvas, 610 x 760cm, 2013

The Good, The Bad and The In-Between Thaya Giwiirr (Jake Soewardie) & Yatama Nigimali (Danny Eastwood) 21 February – 6 April 2013, Blacktown Arts Centre

Exhibition acknowledgments Thank you to all Blacktown Arts Centre and Arts and Cultural Development staff. Additional thanks to staff from Community Development; Building Construction and Maintenance; Public Relations; the Depot and the Information Centre. Jake Soewardie would like to acknowledge all the people that have helped make this exhibition possible, including Jenny Bisset, Director, Paul Howard, Curator, Blacktown Arts Centre; Joanne Ernsten, Printmaking Kingswood TAFE; Birdswood Studio St Marys, framers; his wife and family; his niece, Belinda; Keith Munro and Djon Mundine. Danny Eastwood would like to thank his wife, Pam, for her understanding and patience, whilst he tried to paint so many pictures in such a short time; his son, Jamie, for his help; John Weeks and Neil Booth for their assistance. Jotz Productions Pty Ltd crew, including John Harvey and Tom Zubrycki. His students in the correction centres and at Doonside Cottage for encouraging him to paint. Paul Howard for asking him to exhibit a new body of work following a very long period of painting only a few singular works.

Blacktown Arts Centre

All images courtesy and © the artists 2012.

Manager Arts & Cultural Development/ Director Blacktown Arts Centre Cultural Planning Coordinator Performing Arts Development Officer Cuator Visual Arts Project Officer Project Officer Project Officer Operations Coordinator Senior Administration Officer Administration Officer Administration Trainee Exhibition Installers Publicity Graphic Designer Project Officer, Westwords Project Administrator, Westwords Photographer Operations & Building Works

Front cover: Invasion D-Day, Yatama Nigimali (Danny Eastwood), 2012 Back cover: Down On Their Luck, Thaya Giwiirr (Jake Soewardie), 2012

ISBN: 978-1-921482-36-6

Thank you, come again Lino Print, 2008 Digging Up The Ancestors Lino Print, 2010 Ancestral Tree Lino print, 2008 Platypus Dreaming Woodcut intaglio design, 2010 Competing Interest Woodcut, 2010 Roo Hunters Lino print, 2009 Before They Were Stolen Charcoal on paper, 2013

Jenny Bisset Monir Rowshan Maria Mitar Paul Howard Vaughan O’Connor Stephanie Ferrara Tia McIntyre Miguel Olmo Erin Rackley Dayna Coyle Monique Muscat Vaughan O’Connor, Tim Dale, Krisjoe Fuertes Bianca Devine, Kate Jones, Amanda Calleja Gary Vicente Judith Ridge Jodie Polutele Alex Wisser Justin Attwater


Blacktown Arts Centre

78 Flushcombe Rd, Blacktown NSW 2148 Open 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday T: (02) 9839 6558 E: artscentre@blacktown.nsw.gov.au www.artscentre.blacktown.nsw.gov.au

Profile for The Leo Blacktown Arts Centre

The Good, The Bad & The Inbetween. Thaya Giwiirr and Yatama Nigimali  

The Good, The Bad & The Inbetween. Thaya Giwiirr and Yatama Nigimali  

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