Patrick Waterhouse was born in the UK in 1981. The Restricted Images series is a collaboration between Waterhouse and the Warlukurlangu Art Centre. The works were made in the communities of Yuendumu and Nyirripi which are remote desert aboriginal communities in Central Australia.
When the first British colonialists disembarked in Australia in 1788, they looked hopefully at what for them was terra nullius: an empty, barren land that belonged to nobody. However, Australian Aboriginal society, the longest continuous culture in world history, operated so differently to their own that the settlers found it hard to comprehend what they were seeing. They were not able to understand the unfamiliar landscape or recognise such a radically different way of life.
The settlers were unaware of the fact that these people had survived the Ice Age, successfully modified and managed the landscape, and handed down from generation to generation one of the longest oral histories on Earth, one that is derived from the belief that people and the land upon which they live are at one with each other. Ignorant of these facts, the settlers started drawing maps, dividing the territories, erecting houses and churches, searching for gold and laying down train tracks. This resulted in the newcomers displacing and destroying the indigenous communities along with decimating Australia’s ecosystem.
For the past 7 years, Patrick Waterhouse (UK, °1981) has been taking photographs in Central Australia and acquiring documents that retrace Australia’s colonial history. Waterhouse then took his photographs – along with archival material obtained from museums and auctions – to the remote desert communities of Yuendumu and Nyirippi in Central Australia, where the Warlpiri indigenous group lives. He asked members of the Warlukurlangu Art Centre to revise the documents through the traditional Aboriginal technique of dot painting, practiced by almost half of the community’s population. Drawing upon their own stories and traditions, the artists – a group of men and women aged from 16 to 90 – applied layers of colourful patterns and symbols to the documents. This process can be seen as defacement, a correction of what was there, or the revelation of something that had always been hidden beneath the surface. The resulting work confronts Australia’s colonial narrative with its Aboriginal history, which began more than 50,000 years ago.
The works that will be on show were made at the Warlukurlangu art centre in the communities of Yuendumu and Nyirripi, NT, Australia with:
Adrianna Nangala Egan, Alma Nungarrayi Granites, Angelina Nampijinpa Tasman, Athena Nangala Granites, Cecily Napanangka Marshall, Chantelle Nampijinpa Robertson, Delena Napaljarri Turner, Dorothy Napurrurla Dickson, Felicity Nampijinpa Robertson, Hazel Nungarrayi Morris, Hilda Nakamarra Rogers, Jessica Napanangka Lewis, Joy Nangala Brown, Judith Nungarrayi Martin, Julie Nangala Robertson, Kirsten Nangala Egan, Kirsty Anne Napanangka Brown, Leah Nampijinpa Sampson, Madeleine Napangardi Dixon, Margaret Nangala Gallagher, Margaret Napangardi Lewis, Marilyn Maria Nangala Turner, Marissa Napanangka Anderson, Melinda Napurrurla Wilson, Nathania Nangala Granites, Ormay Nangala Gallagher, Otto Jungarrayi Sims, Pauline Nampijinpa Singleton Polly Anne Napangardi Dixon, Ruth Nungarrayi Spencer, Sabrina Nangala Robertson, Sarah Napurrurla Leo, Selma Napanangka Tasman, Shanna Napanangka Williams, Steven Jangala Hargraves, Tanya Nungarrayi Collins, Valda Napangardi Granites, Watson Jangala Robertson and Wilma Napangardi Poulson.