WEBVTT Kind: captions Language: en 00:00:09.090 --> 00:00:15.460 I I think Brook and I chatted away for about two years before he executed the 00:00:15.460 --> 00:00:24.520 work and it you know he had an idea much earlier on to do something like this for 00:00:24.520 --> 00:00:31.210 another show and it didn't eventuate because the ideas in the show grew like 00:00:31.210 --> 00:00:36.160 topsy and so this didn't really fit in at the time. So it was the natural 00:00:36.160 --> 00:00:40.480 progression but unfortunately at the time I didn't you know have the scope 00:00:40.480 --> 00:00:44.920 and it was much bigger project and so Marcie went on the back burner. But 00:00:44.920 --> 00:00:48.579 actually it was meant to be because then Chris Chapman contacted me a few years 00:00:48.579 --> 00:00:54.609 ago and said 'Brook, would really you know like to commission you to do a portrait 00:00:54.609 --> 00:00:59.309 of Marcia Langton and how you know do you feel about that?' And it was perfect 00:00:59.309 --> 00:01:03.519 for the National Portrait Gallery because she is such an important figure. 00:01:03.519 --> 00:01:12.280 He had the idea of using some ideas from Hindu mythology and expressing them in 00:01:12.280 --> 00:01:19.750 an artistic way to depict you know aspects of the life of an Aboriginal 00:01:19.750 --> 00:01:25.360 person as you know a dynamic flowing series of events rather than you know 00:01:25.360 --> 00:01:31.180 the boring old static idea of the Aborigine in Australian mythology yeah? 00:01:31.180 --> 00:01:35.159 You know if you don't understand the different you know 00:01:35.159 --> 00:01:39.100 disciplines of anthropology you know some people think, 'oh, anthropology is 00:01:39.100 --> 00:01:43.869 just only about the bones and about indigenous people etc' but there are you 00:01:43.869 --> 00:01:46.960 know quite a few indigenous anthropologists and is very important so 00:01:46.960 --> 00:01:50.799 I wanted to show that but it was also about balance so when there was a black 00:01:50.799 --> 00:01:55.829 skull and a white skull. In a lot of my work I have binary opposites and these 00:01:55.829 --> 00:02:00.820 things that even popped up in Anthony Mundine's hope and peace' so you had hope 00:02:00.820 --> 00:02:04.899 in one side and peace on the other. So really the symbols that I kept in in 00:02:04.899 --> 00:02:08.890 Marcia's portrait was still very similar to the Mundine so if you have them both 00:02:08.890 --> 00:02:12.850 up together and I do hope that they'll be both shown together sometime soon you 00:02:12.850 --> 00:02:18.520 will see the absolute similarities. So he was bringing to bear on basically you 00:02:18.520 --> 00:02:22.600 know pretty conventional Australian mythology about 00:02:22.600 --> 00:02:29.530 Aboriginal people his wealth of knowledge about Hindu society and 00:02:29.530 --> 00:02:38.080 history and religious mythology in a very interesting way so that idea of the 00:02:38.080 --> 00:02:45.910 cycle of life and death and the dynamism of you know being human he wanted to 00:02:45.910 --> 00:02:50.650 inject into a work of art and he wanted me as the subject and so we started 00:02:50.650 --> 00:02:56.680 talking about what's important in my life. The other symbolism in Marcia's 00:02:56.680 --> 00:03:00.580 portrait is the Wiradjuri pattern but it's a lot more like a river 00:03:00.580 --> 00:03:05.380 and so I really wanted that to flow like energy so that's kind of like an energy 00:03:05.380 --> 00:03:10.780 force behind it and the fire is in her right hand and so she's, well one of her hands 00:03:10.780 --> 00:03:14.560 because she has six hands and I'll get to that in a minute and so it's about 00:03:14.560 --> 00:03:19.780 magic it's about being a magic person and fire and the other one the other 00:03:19.780 --> 00:03:25.240 left hand is in the meditative pose and then the skulls and then the two hands up are 00:03:25.240 --> 00:03:29.860 holding the diamond which is a sun as well. And of course he knew that I'd 00:03:29.860 --> 00:03:36.040 written a lot about a traditional Aboriginal use of fire and traditions of 00:03:36.040 --> 00:03:43.470 fire management so he's fascinated with that because fires are very important 00:03:43.470 --> 00:03:51.940 symbol in Hindu mythology as it is in many religions. He knew that I had worked 00:03:51.940 --> 00:03:56.920 at the Argyle Diamond Mine and of course you know in Buddhism you had the Diamond 00:03:56.920 --> 00:04:08.740 Sutra and the diamond represents the multi-faceted effect of well let's say 00:04:08.740 --> 00:04:19.630 purity yeah of of peace yeah? So he like he was bringing together elements from 00:04:19.630 --> 00:04:27.190 our from his world in my world. Then with these elements they were really 00:04:27.190 --> 00:04:31.900 developed in the studio as well weren't they the skulls? No, a lot of it 00:04:31.900 --> 00:04:35.919 came through the process I think originally there was we tried some lightning as well. 00:04:35.919 --> 00:04:39.810 Yes we had lightning too but that... And at some point there was some text 00:04:39.810 --> 00:04:43.300 do I recall? Yes there was peace because originally there were going 00:04:43.300 --> 00:04:47.970 to be two diamonds there were going to be a peace diamond and the conflict diamond but 00:04:47.970 --> 00:04:53.050 scrapped that. Yeah so I guess there were things developed in the studio 00:04:53.050 --> 00:04:56.800 they didn't didn't make the final work and so that's probably a you know Brook 00:04:56.800 --> 00:05:02.800 is a very dynamic artist and works you know quite intuitively and in a 00:05:02.800 --> 00:05:07.660 practical way in a process way and so you know that the portrait really 00:05:07.660 --> 00:05:13.720 evolved from the only studio session to what you did on the computer. Mm, hmm. And so 00:05:13.720 --> 00:05:17.410 you know that the image of Marcia you see just isn't a straight kind of a 00:05:17.410 --> 00:05:22.000 photographic portrait obviously obviously not with all the different 00:05:22.000 --> 00:05:27.430 elements but even just if you literally just take her portrait, her face 00:05:27.430 --> 00:05:32.500 you know I feel that there's some softened lines and yeah and the hairs 00:05:32.500 --> 00:05:37.030 been exaggerated so it's kind of wavy hair that kind of goes on and on the 00:05:37.030 --> 00:05:44.880 idea of Kali was you know came up first of all did some black-and-white drawings 00:05:44.880 --> 00:05:51.430 and he showed me those and I could see where he was headed with it and so we 00:05:51.430 --> 00:05:56.860 just kept talking and then eventually this idea of Kali popped up and he 00:05:56.860 --> 00:06:01.720 started working with that and then I did a sitting. So the process of the portrait 00:06:01.720 --> 00:06:09.159 was Marcia sitting for that photographic shoot first and I had two opposing 00:06:09.159 --> 00:06:13.449 different meditative poses and then I imported that as a digital file into the 00:06:13.449 --> 00:06:18.849 computer and I changed certain aspects of it so it didn't look so much like a 00:06:18.849 --> 00:06:29.699 photographic portrait so it was almost cartoon-esque and then I selected 00:06:29.699 --> 00:06:34.479 certain parts of the body with Trent. So for example we had the body and then we 00:06:34.479 --> 00:06:39.310 have the arms and then we had the head and we outputted those on to screen. Onto 00:06:39.310 --> 00:06:44.470 a screen print. Yes we had films we have a film made from Brooks 00:06:44.470 --> 00:06:49.210 files so you can imagine there's an arm there's there's a head there's you know 00:06:49.210 --> 00:06:53.919 a body so that all you know quite quite separate from the start so in a way it 00:06:53.919 --> 00:07:01.500 was like making a collage in reverse. So Brooks very good at capturing 00:07:02.880 --> 00:07:08.830 something about the body he did that also in his Kalar Midday series with his 00:07:08.830 --> 00:07:16.290 photographs of Tina and and other characters in the trees in the night sky 00:07:16.290 --> 00:07:24.040 so i wrote about that in my my essays on his work and so I was hoping that you 00:07:24.040 --> 00:07:28.030 know somehow he would be able to do that with me actually has gone beyond that in 00:07:28.030 --> 00:07:34.060 this work and that's what I really love about the work I heard people grumbling 00:07:34.060 --> 00:07:42.430 at the, at the opening night at the opening day when they you know showed it 00:07:42.430 --> 00:07:45.789 to the public, it was the evening actually at the National Portrait Gallery and 00:07:45.789 --> 00:07:49.419 people are saying that you know 'it's not what I think of as a portrait doesn't 00:07:49.419 --> 00:07:52.600 look like a portrait to me" but you see I think it is because I know what went 00:07:52.600 --> 00:07:58.450 into it so he's captured you know me juggling all sorts of things but it's 00:07:58.450 --> 00:08:04.150 not just me see it's it's a big idea in there it's a very big idea. But yeah the 00:08:04.150 --> 00:08:10.270 the printing of the of the work was a lot of experimentation we were in Trent's 00:08:10.270 --> 00:08:18.130 studio and played with painting on the screen to you know and you tried hand 00:08:18.130 --> 00:08:21.820 colouring hand colouring yeah I did a lot of things in the studio here at Brook's studio 00:08:21.820 --> 00:08:26.020 and just you know putting things up and moving things around I mean as you 00:08:26.020 --> 00:08:31.000 can tell from the finished work it's quite a large place so you know to be 00:08:31.000 --> 00:08:36.310 able to see it all at once was it was a challenge in my studio. Yeah so we'd 00:08:36.310 --> 00:08:40.990 stick it up here and stand up here and look with it down here and it was good 00:08:40.990 --> 00:08:45.820 and I'm always an artist that I love challenging the medium so I kind of said 00:08:45.820 --> 00:08:49.420 to Trent; let's do this and he says to me yeah let's do that so it's it's it's 00:08:49.420 --> 00:08:53.920 been I just didn't want this to be a screen print you know this is this is 00:08:53.920 --> 00:08:56.200 not just I don't see this portrait as a screen 00:08:56.200 --> 00:08:59.860 print. I see this is a portrait representing Marcia. And so those 00:08:59.860 --> 00:09:04.150 elements in the way in which we got to finally make decisions about how those 00:09:04.150 --> 00:09:08.410 elements are cut out how they're actually floating so in the frame when 00:09:08.410 --> 00:09:13.450 you look at the frame that is a collage there so there are what three six seven 00:09:13.450 --> 00:09:18.550 eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen elements that bring it together 00:09:18.550 --> 00:09:26.190 And you know portraiture is so much more than a painting. It's so much more than 00:09:26.190 --> 00:09:31.090 the traditional way of looking at somebody and I think that you know the 00:09:31.090 --> 00:09:34.810 way in which that we worked right from the beginning of her sitting still so 00:09:34.810 --> 00:09:41.140 really she did sit for it anyway and I did change it digitally a little bit. It 00:09:41.140 --> 00:09:47.920 became almost like a cartoon but not and it's it's not really fixed so it's 00:09:47.920 --> 00:09:53.290 believable but it's not but it's also a caricature but it's not. And so it's 00:09:53.290 --> 00:09:58.360 these sort of things that are not.. I didn't want it to be a defining portrait. 00:09:58.360 --> 00:10:03.280 I didn't want it to be okay that's a snapshot that's a photograph. I think it 00:10:03.280 --> 00:10:07.990 needed to be a bit more in the dream world as well and I think that that was 00:10:07.990 --> 00:10:13.480 really more about capturing her consciousness. And so what he's done is 00:10:13.480 --> 00:10:22.060 taken these this idea of Kali yeah and put the two together you know my private 00:10:22.060 --> 00:10:29.500 persona my public persona then added Kali and and and I think taken apart 00:10:29.500 --> 00:10:35.080 altogether, you know, undone the conventional mythology about the 00:10:35.080 --> 00:10:39.190 'aboriginal portrait' the 'portrait of an Aborigine' and I'm absolutely thrilled 00:10:39.190 --> 00:10:47.170 with the outcome. It's so big and bold and colorful and lively it kind of 00:10:47.170 --> 00:10:52.930 doesn't matter that it's me or somebody else. It's a meta statement 00:10:52.930 --> 00:10:58.180 about the portrait of an Aborigine yeah but you know could be about any human 00:10:58.180 --> 00:11:03.190 being as well. But I like what he's done a really like what he's done and I love 00:11:03.190 --> 00:11:08.320 it that he's taken really fundamental elemental symbols 00:11:08.320 --> 00:11:17.890 the diamond and fire and the skull and so on and the you 00:11:17.890 --> 00:11:24.300 know the meditation or even yoga position and you know looking towards 00:11:24.300 --> 00:11:31.000 you know the other world yeah you know the kind of the state of grace yeah he's 00:11:31.000 --> 00:11:36.430 taken all of that to make a much bigger statement than a simple portrait we're 00:11:36.430 --> 00:11:40.000 about which people might wonder 'well it's not a very good likeness is it dear' 00:11:40.000 --> 00:11:43.600 you know it kind of it doesn't matter that's not the point. This is a meta 00:11:43.600 --> 00:11:48.160 statement and I think in many ways he's captured more about me than a 00:11:48.160 --> 00:11:55.810 conventional portrait would. And then we showed Marcia and she said that it's the 00:11:55.810 --> 00:11:59.140 first time she saw it when she was at the National Portrait Gallery and it 00:11:59.140 --> 00:12:04.630 was being launched which I thought was funny because I'd sent her images of 00:12:04.630 --> 00:12:11.320 it but she loved it you know so and I think it was she did see a certain 00:12:11.320 --> 00:12:16.030 elements of it but not as a whole and I like that. But I'm so happy that 00:12:16.030 --> 00:12:20.050 she likes it and her daughter likes it too so that's really important. I think 00:12:20.050 --> 00:12:24.790 the curators at the National Portrait Gallery are very, were very brave for 00:12:24.790 --> 00:12:30.340 giving this commission to Brook and allowing him to present them with 00:12:30.340 --> 00:12:37.200 a work that he was very happy with and I'm thrilled that they're happy with it 00:12:37.200 --> 00:12:44.880 and I'm also you know very honored to be in the National Portrait Gallery