some responses to the storm...
the artist's confidante
At the conclusion of a Panel Discussion on the exhibition From Appreciation to Appropriation: Indigenous Influences and Images in Australian Visual Art at Flinders Art Museum, City Gallery Adelaide, South Australia on Sunday 12 March 2000, Perpetua, sitting next to her mother, made the following statement:
Most here are aware that much of the focus of the public forums over the past week has been on the Eddie Burrup affair —
Not on the art of Eddie Burrup
But on the persona of Eddie Burrup —
Or more directly on Elizabeth Durack herself.
In effect, a kind of informal trial has taken place, during which one side — one point of view only — has been put forward.
To that extent, there being no real debate, these forums have failed miserably in their stated objective to be ‘entirely educational’.
Elizabeth, as a highly creative artist, is not here to defend herself.
Nor, for that matter, am I.
At this stage I have just one point to make: Elizabeth did what she did — entered paintings in two Aboriginal shows — in order to get the work noticed on its merits, for its own intrinsic worth.
And in this she succeeded.
As the work of Eddie Burrup, it was applauded and hailed as that of a genius. As the work of Elizabeth Durack it was — and in certain quarters continues to be — vilified, maligned, defamed.
Despite this — and most remarkably under the circumstances of the past few years — Elizabeth herself has continued to work on.
At times, when I myself have almost despaired at the turn of events, she says: Hold on, the story is not over yet.
Within two months of the so-called ‘entirely educational forums’ in Adelaide, Elizabeth Durack had died from cancer. Several members of the audience — but evidently none of the organisers — recognised Elizabeth’s courage in attending the hostile set-up at a time when she was so critically ill.