DETAIL : Jimmy BAKER 'Katatjita' 2006 synthetic polymer paint on canvas, Courtesy of Marshall Arts Aboriginal Fine Art Gallery, � Jimmy Baker
H. WEDGE | Can't stop thinking about it I, II, III

Australia 1957 /1959
Can't stop thinking about it I, II, III 2007
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
overall 120.0 (h) x 360.0 (w) cm
Courtesy of Boomalli Aboriginal Artist Co-Operative Ltd.
© H.J. Wedge

I know there are a lot of things go through my mind. Some of the things I really can’t stop thinking about: when Captain Cook came and landed and called it a new country in British justice or whatever you want to call it. Captain Cook made a map of our coastline. They even buggered that up, they did. They thought Tasmania was joined up to Australia, but it wasn’t. They came here with a lot of stuff and they went around to a lot of other countries and that, discovering new lands as well. But I can’t help thinking about when they landed here: what it would be like if the native people did start to spear them, frighten them and kill them all.

I wonder how this country would look now. Would we still be living in the bush – no fences, no cities and no pollution – everything the way it was before they came here? The air sweet and beautiful. The animals now extinct, they’d be around as well. But you know we can’t bring them back, and you can’t change the past, as the saying goes. But they did land here and Captain Cook and his men done things I don’t think they even put in their diaries or their catalogues, or whatever you want to call it. Like it show in these four or five paintings. The first one shows where the black man killed Captain Cook, but you know it didn’t happen that way at all.

Then I think it was another hundred years after that they come here and settled down in this country. They came here and done a lot of bad things, destroying, clearing the land. You really can’t stop thinking about these things. But the Aboriginal people, I can’t think of the tribal name, but they fought back, but the white man would win anyway with cannons and rifles and that. They came along and took over the land and pushed us off.

It’s funny things never seem to work out. I mean, you look at the country now. It’s a fair bit of a mess now already, with all these factories digging up the earth, people destroying a lot of things. If you know in your mind or heart, you know what I’m tryin’ to get across. This is my opinion anyway.

It’s really up to each of us to make up our own minds what is right and what is wrong. You know this land was ours, but it’s yours now. But there’s still a lot of people out there fightin’ for us so that we can get it back one day, maybe in one lifetime.

I sometimes look out my window. Look at the world, what it is. Some of the countries are worse than ours but don’t forget that one day we’ll be where they are and they are still going to be ten times worse than us. People have got to stop and think, not only here but overseas; America, Japan, Europe, Ireland, everybody’s destroying everything. Money’s the going thing.

A lot of rain forests in other countries are being destroyed. I watch a lot of documentaries and shows on animals and stuff. You see how big a country is, you see some of the rainforests just like little dots because that’s all it is, just dots on the map. Some of these places have thousands of different types of animals living in the rainforests. That’s the only place they can survive, in the rainforest. But we’ve gotten off the track so we’ve got to get back on the track. As it shows in this painting.

So you know before you do anything, judge anybody, you should really stop and think. I know it might be a bit too late for us now but it’s never too late to do anything. I know that there’s people who go around Australia and try to clean everything up, clean up a lot of mess that a lot of people chuck away. I reckon they could do a lot more.

We should live as one, on country, not connected to another country. So we talk about war and stuff, but my people were soldiers. They fought. They didn’t run with their tails between their legs. We’ve got to put things aside and try to come up with something. It’s got to work for us and work for you as well. I know that everybody is supposed to be treated as equal, but that don’t seem to work either.

A lot of people do see people and accept them for what they are and who they are. Others feel they don’t’ mind talking to you or maybe be your friend, but they don’t want you to be in their families because you might be Greek or Chinese. So there’s a lot of things wrong in this country and there’s still going to be a lot more things wrong because we haven’t got the time or the patience to understand these things.

H.J. Wedge, 1998