My Place, Sally Morgan’s best selling autobiography, was published in 1987. One of the things she spoke about was her grandmother’s fear of letting anyone know she was Aboriginal. The timing of this story is as interesting as the story itself, for the enquiry into the Stolen Generations did not begin until 1995.
[No, you can't really click to look inside from here... cropping the Amazon.com image is too complicated late at night.]
Sally is as famous for her art as for her writing, and she designed the covers of her two books. I can’t say her art appeals to me overmuch, but when I saw a print of this I had to buy it:
This painting is my ‘bible’, because it tells me all I need to know about the relationship between the mundane and the arcane, and because looking at it is my morning prayer. It’s called “New Day”.
Maybe Sally was dabbling or grappling with her newfound identity, when she painted it. Maybe it was because it reflected an “Anglo” sensibility that I felt I could understand it – it was a very long time before I discovered anything about the meaning of various traditional Aboriginal symbols.
Well, let’s face it, it was a very long time before I realised Aboriginal paintings would have meaning [how arrogant is that?].
My only excuse is that I grew up with this as an example of great Aboriginal art:
Realising that Albert Namatjira was possibly only appreciated because he painted Anglo style makes his story doubly tragic.