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Heather Winter

"Since 1994 I have been under tutelage from Ngarinyin Aboriginal elders from the Kimberley. In telling me their story, song of their country they have tried to instill in me their understanding of place. Resulting in a series of conversational pieces titled Perceiving the Land (1996-1998) and From Cave to Canvas: A Process of Translation, (2003-2006).

In my work I reference self-portrait and performance to explore representation through gender, ethnicity, landscape, nature and white Australia’s relationship with Aboriginality, suggesting a synaesthetic ethnography. Through a dialogue with indigenous knowledge systems, I depart from my own western perspective. In evoking readings from psychoanalytical and anthropological tracings I question traditional notions of these disciplines in relation to the politics of spectatorship. Using photography as a mirror I dissect my own story (or personal journey), referencing my own families forced dislocation from Europe to Australia.

I am interested in how rituals of hunting, ceremony, mimicry are located within the Indigenous Australian and the historical culture of Europe. The concept of decorating the body with the country itself, be it with ochre, ash, or exquisite feathers displays a connection to both contemporary and ancestral ways of life. The Ngarinyin application of ochre becomes a symbolic language identifying family connections to animals, plants and territory."

(Heather Winter 2006)