Recipient of the Tolarno Hotel Award.
VIOLENCE AND INNOCENCE
My artistic practice is an exploration of my identity and place within my family’s history in post-WW2 Australia. It is a direct response to my relationship with my family’s photographic archives. I aim to uncover hidden histories, challenging the troubled boundary between violence and innocence.
My Poppa tells me this photo was taken at his grandparents’ Heidelberg home around 1942. Pictured are my Poppa (right) and his cousin John (left) standing tall with toy guns by their sides. Nanna shares introspectively, ‘they were made special by Grandfather’. Their heroes were soldiers. Soldiers like Poppa’s Dad Baden, who at the time was serving in Tobruk and would remain there for another two years. During this period many fathers, uncles, brothers and sons were fighting overseas, alluding to the question, what do these young innocent faces know of violence?
Photographic slides—otherwise retired to a dark cupboard at Nanna’s—prompt reminiscence and reflection. ‘John died young in a car accident’, Poppa says. He was twenty. The haziness of his image when I scale up the figure speaks to the absences and erasures created by his early death. All histories are partial and contingent, and my practice seeks to operate in the margins and spaces left out of the account.