DETAIL : Jimmy BAKER 'Katatjita' 2006 synthetic polymer paint on canvas, Courtesy of Marshall Arts Aboriginal Fine Art Gallery, � Jimmy Baker


I made the work palm cluster for my exhibition a complicated fall at Bellas Milani Gallery. The exhibition title related to a comment by the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions that Mulrundji Doomadgee, a Waanyi man’s death on Palm Island was caused by ‘a complicated fall’. This was a surprising finding considering the physical damage that the man had suffered during his ordeal in the Palm Island Gaol. ‘A complicated fall’ can also refer to a fall from grace, a fall of government and so on.

Other works in a complicated fall referred more specifically to recent events on Palm Island, and/or used familiar recurring motifs from my work such as shells, ribs, plants and maps. While I was making the work for this exhibition I listened to ABC Radio National. At this time there were many news updates about events on Palm Island. Part of my response to this was an internal grieving that I was aware of as I was pushing and scrubbing the raw pigments into the canvas. The deep blues of the background of the canvas are made by scrubbing the intense dark Prussian blue and purplish ultramarine blue pigments onto the material using a stiff brush.

Blue is the colour of memory and is associated with water; it washes over me. Waanyi people are known as ‘running water people’ because of the inherent quality of the water in their country.


Courtesy Judy Watson and Bellas Milani Gallery, Brisbane.