Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Australian Aborigianl artist Richard Bell has an exhibition of works on Circular Quay near the Opera House. I read about it in a leaflet and was unable to find them and then realised they were being displayed in the adversting hoardings beside the bus stops. A really democratic way of exhibiting work.
Bell learned early on that shyness doesn't get you anywhere. He grew up in outback Queensland, around Charleville, Mitchell and Augathella. His father spent most of his time droving and cane-cutting and was rarely at home, so Bell was brought up by his mother.

"We couldn't afford good cuts of meat and we'd get sick of sausages," Bell says, "so me and my brother would say, 'Oh bugger this, let's go get some goanna, porcupine, kangaroo or emu or whatever.'

"We'd have fried scones with goanna or emu or porcupine, and white kids would be swapping us white bread with ham. [At school] I went off to the side to eat my things, because I was a bit 'shame' that we couldn't afford the stuff all the rich kids had.

"My younger brother, Marshall, didn't give a f---. He'd say, 'Eh, wanna taste of this?' They were like, 'Oh yeah, that's nice.' Then he'd say, 'Good, now give me yours.' He had kids lined up wanting to try his stuff. We ended up scamming some good tucker out of that."

Bell's mother, who made a living decorating wedding cakes, died when he was 17 - but not before she taught her son the art of cake decorating. Bell's aunties remain convinced that icing cakes helped him become the artist he is today.

"It did give me early practice at keeping a steady hand," he says.

More here.

See one of the pictures here.