“With every painting, Julie Dowling gives ownership to our communities with every story told within them. She has focused on healing and acknowledgement of how truly resilient and strong our people are…” Julie’s sister, Carol Dowling 2018
For Wiru (Spirit) Dowling’s suite of miniature portraits represents a community actively decolonising through documenting, learning and speaking their language, Badimaya on Country in the Mid-West of WA.
Referring to the importance of preserving First Nation languages throughout the world, within each work of this series of paintings, language is represented as a vessel for relationships to Country, full of knowledge, culture and historical significance.
“The use of our faces in this exhibition is the idea of having the presence of First Nations people in any room. It is emblematic of us as human beings.” Carol Dowling 2018
Classified as an endangered language, and with only a single fluent speaker, the Badimaya people are engaging proactively to learn and preserve their language. This exhibition takes the form of a visual thesis for the importance of cultural preservation on a personal scale.
The larger works in Wiru illustrate Dowling’s exploration of Midland’s history and pays homage to the significance of this area to the Noongar people. Midland has the highest percentage of Aboriginal people living in the Perth Metro area. To celebrate this strong relationship to land, her paintings use Badimaya and Noongar words in the title and subject matter.
Working in a social realist style, Dowling draws on diverse art traditions including European portraiture, Christian icons, mural painting, dotting and Indigenous Australian iconography. Dowling has established an ethnographic practice recording deep-seated injustices in the Indigenous community. Her paintings have a strong political edge, subverting traditional power relations between the observer and the observed, the colonizer and the colonized.
Supported by Yamaji Arts.