The solitary artist/writer, 9 May 2022

He stands over a corner of the rebar grid
and presses the trigger water dribbles
onto a pile of concrete freshly excreted
from the vast cloaca slowly revolving,
‘What’s wrong your gun Pete?’

An Aboriginal worker grins at me grinning
split-second connection in the banter
council workers’ laughter in solidarity
under blue skies, Blue-faced Honeyeaters
and silver grey and pink Galahs.

An artist / writer has a lonely job, unpaid
and generally unappreciated, but I wouldn’t
(couldn’t) change it, and my skin is white
I wouldn’t change that comfortable privilege
for which I know I owe more than I can know.

Kim Mahood talks of, ‘the anti-social nature of art, the contradiction between the deep need to make contact with one’s fellow beings and an equally deep need for the solitude to work and be oneself without the scrutiny of other people.’ [i]

She grew up in Central Australia and on Tanami Downs Station, and has maintained strong connectiosn frequent trips and in Balgo working at the Warlayirti Art Centre.

Kim Mahood ‘There is something incompatible between white and Aboriginal lives. I have neither the need nor the stamina to become enmeshed in these relationships, and it is through constant coming and going that I both sustain them and keep them within manageable boundaries. When I return to the country I reinhabit a physical and emotional life that doesn’t need to be analysed and examined, where each day is so full of events and sensations and pepla that there is no time to wonder what one is doing or why.’[ii]

I am beset by a sense of time passing and time lost and things changing and nothing changing. This brings with it a loneliness that intensifies as the years pass. The desire to share what I have experienced becomes more insistent, and the impossibility of sharing it becomes more acute. To write it down is the best I can do.’ [iii]

[i] Kim Mahood, ‘My country: A different space’, Island, 103, Summer 2005, p24.

[ii] Kim Mahood, 2005, p23.

[iii] Kim Mahood, ‘Lost and found in translation: Who can talk to country?’ Griffith Review 63, Feb, 2019.

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