his emergence - in private
Towards the end of 1994, during a time of national turmoil and personal anguish, Elizabeth Durack had been producing a set of paintings that related to, yet were more potent than, her previous arcane out of mind work. Concerned primarily, and as ever, with underlying connections between animate and inanimate forms, Elizabeth was calling her new series ‘morphological’ works. When she first showed them to her daughter a few days after Christmas, no one else had sighted them. They were not signed; they had no titles; nor, uncharacteristically, had Elizabeth any plans for them.
Landscape and figures with allusions to Aboriginality had long dominated Elizabeth Durack’s work and Perpetua was more familiar than most with the many series produced over the years. The morphological works were different. More pure and striking they were clearly a major artistic breakthrough.
Sensing the implications of the new work as shown in the examples above, Perpetua, in some exasperation, said:
‘What are you doing...? Why are you working like this? These are somehow ‘Aboriginal’ works ... They deserve to be seen and exhibited — yet paintings such as these by Elizabeth Durack won't be looked at, let alone accepted (... by out-of-tune critics). Yet,’ challenged Perpetua, ‘you’d never come at signing them with another name...’ Elizabeth agreed. A nom de brush was out of the question and no more was said.
A day later, when walking along the Swan foreshore, out of the blue Elizabeth said: ‘You know, Perpetua, I might think about signing those morphological works with another name ...’ Moments after this crucial remark, the figure of Eddie Burrup — his background, his age, even his hat and beard — appeared before her.
The above is brief background to the decision, made on December 28 1994, to present paintings in the name of Eddie Burrup. At that stage there was no way of knowing where this course of action would lead.
[For a fuller account of how Eddie Burrup materialised refer estate archives, correspondence between ED and PDC Jan–April 1995; and Reinvent ... how I re-invented myself in my 80th year, manuscript by ED 1995–2000]