Acrylic on canvas –
1200mm x 900mm
$2,500, shipping free
Limited edition prints may be available
The 40 year anniversary of the 1967 referendum on 27 May 2007 is a moment of such historical significance for my people and this nation of Australia that I had to capture the moment in my painting. It is a matter of seizing the moment. It is a watershed time that changed history and the swirling waters in my painting reflect that. In fact, the movement of the waves surrounding the nation are vigorous, refreshing and life-giving. A map of Australia is in the centre of the painting with theTorres Strait Islands impressionistically depicted to the north east as there are two indigenous groups in Australia.
In the centre of Australia is a ballot box with a vote going in that says “Right Wrongs, Write Yes”. It is like Australia itself is turned into a huge ballot box where people are posting their votes. While Australians don’t usually vote yes in referendums, there was such a groundswell of support for the yes vote (90.77% said yes) for indigenous people to be citizens in their own land, that we see black and white leaders and the people themselves standing shoulder to shoulder to say “yes”.
Votes float in the waves as a sea of support. Some of the words on the placards supporting the yes vote at the time are depicted on the painting.
The 1967 referendum changed the constitution so the legal discrimination against indigenous people was ended and the Federal Government could make laws for indigenous people and we would be counted in the census. It is commonly thought indigenous people were granted the right to vote but this had been granted a few years earlier.
Just as there was a counting of people in the census, we also have a count down to the 40 year anniversary and we count our progress as a nation. I see Australia as a boat and we steer this nation together into its destiny.
Today we look at “40 years on”, not just the historical significance but the contemporary relevance of us all being citizens together in a land that was once the home of an ancient people, the Aborigines, but today it is our common home as we stand shoulder to shoulder to face a bright future together.