Tessa McOnie - People's Choice

Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2015 - People's Choice


[Image courtesy of the artist]

Tessa McOnie | Gateway to the Soul - Alfred Umbagai | 2014 | Oil on linen | 91 x 137 x 3 cm

Artist Statement

His face records a history of suffering. Alfred Umbagai’s people (the Worrorra) had to leave their pristine Eden on the Kimberley coast. They now live at Mowanjum near Derby, hundreds of kilometres away from the blue seas teeming with life. My painting is an attempt to reflect Alfred’s vulnerability to this pain. It is there in the background; tears of the past and the present. But Alfred is not the pain. The land lives within this man. Alfred led his friend Robert Hoskin into his Worrorra land. They walked down a beach near to where the whales calve and the turtles roam free. He called out to the spirits of the land for protection and care. This call echoes through Alfred’s eyes, reflecting this gentle but savage land that is Australia, stretching from the Kimberley, to Perth, to Queensland, and further.