Issues for consideration

Aboriginal people who were taken away from their communities often travel vast distances in a subliminal, as well as literal search for themselves and a place to belong. My father, and my family, was ‘luckier’ than some that never made it home.

- Brenda L Croft

Brenda L Croft is an artist and curator from the Gurindji and Mutpurra community, a founding member of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative and one of a group of urban Indigenous artists to emerge from Sydney in the 1980s. Her father was a member of the Stolen Generation, taken from his mother at the age of 18 months. Many such children were taken to children’s homes, often run by the church, where they were trained as domestic or farm workers.

  • Croft explores the intersection between family experience and history through work which uses her own family photographs, religious imagery and familiar language and text. Identify the use of post-modern strategies such as irony, humour and quotation in works such as Jesus wants me for a sunbeam. How might Croft be referring to the Stolen Generation and the roles of many such children?
  • Discuss the use of personal content when referring to broad issues such as the Stolen Generation, missions and the history of Aboriginal and European relations. How are these issues still being felt today in an environment that many describe as post-colonial?
  • Research the emergence of ‘urban Aboriginal culture’ and discuss the influences of this movement on the social and political landscape of today. Look at the work of other urban Indigenous artists who work with photomedia, such as Tracey Moffatt, Destiny Deacon and Michael Riley. Discuss the ways in which their work and artmaking practices challenge stereotypical ideas about Aboriginal identity.

Quote is from catalogue essay ‘In my father’s house’, NAIDOC Week 1998: ‘Bringing them home’, Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, July – Aug 1998, p95