By Lucinda Horrocks, 16 October 2015.
“I realise the dispossession of Aboriginal people and the legacy of racist colonialism is still present in the bones of my home”
Aunty Marlene Gilson’s paintbrush is tiny. It’s narrow as a twig, a fraction the width of her thumbnail. She holds it poised in one hand while rummaging for paint amongst the crumpled tubes lying randomly on a chair next to her. She talks constantly, nervous because we are there. “Where’s the red?” she says. “You know, I can never find it. “ She dips the brush into the paint tube with a practised gesture. “I’m not supposed to do it this way”, she says, “but it’s easier”. She leans close to the large canvas and traces a line, a thread of colour. Bright pigments. Red first. Then yellow, then white. She is lighting a campfire, the simple colours morphing into flames before my eyes. “I wasn’t going to light the fire but I think it looks better.” She dabs on a bit of white and black with a dirty sponge. “That’s the smoke”, she says. And indeed it is, drifting lazily past some tiny figures around a campfire.
“That’s done.” She says.
Aunty Marlene Gilson is a Wathaurung (Wadawarrung) Elder living on country in Gordon, near Ballarat. A visual artist who discovered painting later in life, Aunty Marlene’s paintings explore Aboriginal myth and stories of the goldfields. Her work is marked by a naive style which references her Indigenous and European ancestry. She is a descendent of King Billy, an Indigenous tribal leader of the Ballarat region at the time of the Eureka Stockade, and his wife Queen Mary. In this short film Aunty Marlene describes the stories she depicts in her paintings ‘Mount Warrenheip and Eureka Stockade’ (2013) and ‘Life on the Goldfields’ (2014). She talks of life for her ancestor King Billy, the wearing of breast plates, Indigenous women’s skills of basket weaving and textiles, and she speculates on what Indigenous people must have felt at the time of Eureka.
Wind & Sky Productions produced four short digital stories for the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka as part of the commemoration of the 160th Anniversary of the Eureka Stockade. The films are on permanent display in the Museum touchtable exhibition.
On permanent display, Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, Ballarat.
21 November 2015, Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival (CLIFF)
- Produced by:
- Jary Nemo and Lucinda Horrocks
- Production Company:
- Wind & Sky Productions
- Directed and edited by:
- Jary Nemo
- Written and researched by:
- Lucinda Horrocks
- Aunty Marlene Gilson
- Camera and Sound:
- Jary Nemo
- Lucinda Horrocks
- ‘Mount Warrenheip and Eureka Stockade’ © Marlene Gilson, 2013, ‘Life on the Goldfields’ © Marlene Gilson, 2014.
- Archival images courtesy of:
- Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat Historical Society, Old Colonists Club, Ballarat, The Gold Museum, Ballarat, State Library of Victoria.
- With thanks to:
- Fred Cahir, Ian Clark, Peter Freund, Clare Gervasoni, Barry Gilson, Deanne Gilson, Gordon Morrison, David Miller, Claire Muir, Janice Newton, Roger Trudgeon, the Old Colonists Club Ballarat, and the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
- Commissioned by:
- Jane Smith, Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.
- Funded by:
- Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet.
- We give thanks to the Wathaurung people of the Kulin Nation, the traditional owners of the land where the Eureka Stockade took place, and pay respect to their Elders past and present.
- Copyright with:
- © M.A.D.E. Ballarat 2014. All rights reserved.
Stories of Eureka
On December 3 1854, in Ballarat, a group of gold miners clashed with the local authorities in a bloody encounter which influenced the course of democracy in Australia.
We’ve been busy at Wind & Sky creating four digital stories about people connected to the Eureka Stockade for the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E Ballarat).
Come help us celebrate the launch of our films and the 160th anniversary of Eureka. There are a series of events on the actual anniversary day the 3rd of December and on the weekend of the 6-7 December.Read More