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Julie Dowling's celebration of aboriginal women through portraiture

Jackett, Amy (2015). Julie Dowling's celebration of aboriginal women through portraiture. Woman's Art Journal,36(1):3-9.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID 75039815xPUB822
Title Julie Dowling's celebration of aboriginal women through portraiture
Author Jackett, Amy
Journal Name Woman's Art Journal
Publication Date 2015
Volume Number 36
Issue Number 1
ISSN 0270-7993   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-84928154042
Start Page 3
End Page 9
Total Pages 7
Place of Publication United States of America
Publisher Old City Publishing, Inc.
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DIISR)
Abstract Julie Dowling is one of Australia’s most celebrated Indigenous artists. Dowling’s oeuvre mostly consists of portraits that reflect a diverse range of influences, such as Renaissance portraiture, Romanticism, Catholic iconography, Papunya Tula dot painting and
contemporary art. I propose that Dowling employs traditional portraiture techniques to individualise Aboriginal history, breaking it down from being perceived in terms of a homogenous plight.1 Her portraits put viewers face to face with individual Aboriginal people. Dowling wants viewers to feel as if they are meeting her ancestors in the hope that ‘bridges are crossed in people’s minds about my grandmother’s people’ (cited in Watson, 2012). As Julie’s twin sister Carol writes (2005a), ‘Julie implores her audience to see through Aboriginal eyes, as oppressed peoples, to have compassion and respond humanely, and to celebrate our survival’. In this paper I explore how Dowling creates an impression of life that makes her portraits accessible and affective to a broad audience.

This paper is divided into four sections, each of which focuses on a particular imagined portrait.2 The first section highlights the interconnectedness and importance of family to Dowling and her connections to Country. In the second section, I consider Dowling’s ‘Nyorn’ series, isolating one imagined portrait of the series to demonstrate how Dowling sparks empathy in viewers. The third section examines how Dowling employs romantic conventions to ennoble her great-great grandmother, while the fourth section looks at how Dowling uses a similar approach to apotheosise the Aboriginal freedom fighter Walyer.
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Created: Tue, 26 Jul 2016, 13:02:47 CST