New Collectables Gallery, Fremantle WA
'I started painting the images of my outback experiences as they are seen externally in the dreamy Australian way (our secret heroes). In uncovering I discovered an ignorance, a very big living myth, a world in a time warp, where there''s been no review or inspection of the methods of behaviour on the country for far too long. The ways have become a religion in themselves. The new Australia's roots, its skeleton and the skeleton is only that; I found no tender rich blood cursing through the shell. No sensitivity to the complexity of the big harsh outback of Australia; only a sort of 'healthy fear'.
You could walk past a flat plain with a few scattered rocks and think it was hell. We have constantly harangued people who come to our country for not adopting 'our' Australian way of life. Boo to the 'dago's' and 'whatever's'. up the street for still eating baklava and practising weird bearded church going rituals. But we're the ones who didn't adapt to the country's way of life. We got away with it because we had bigger weapons than the people already here when we arrived. And like the great red, yellow, or purple peril, a culture that consists of ghostly figures painted on cave walls, and baby spirits in rock pools was far too primitive for the likes of people who worship men who walked on water, produced fish from an empty bucket, bought an apple from a snake and were conceived by a virgin.
What are the ingredients that make up the Australian image? How did we arrive at the picture of ourselves we have created? The current work looks at the recipe and how we've thrown it together over the past 200 years to form our image. We've built our image on some mixed and motley foundations, we identify ourselves with some unlikely heroes while we ignore some more obvious ones. The foundations of our western hot pot are shaking in their un-sturdy boots as we ride the big red roo into the 21st century. We want to be Crocodile Dundee for our spectators but we too often eat the croc and the red roo for dinner - the stars of the show are consumed'. We have some strange messes in our wake, we do some funny things to treasures not of dollar value. In a country of long distances, its very hard to feel the preciousness and delicateness of a desert spring supporting a totally unique micro climate when your'e surrounded by short green grass, cement pavers, leather upholstery and 10 bills to get through the house of Senate. The remedy is a trip to the horses mouth but it rarely happens. The whole white history has been built from the big far away shiny places and the results are coming back onto their pate plates now. Its a good time now. We are standing in front of our shadows and finally taking a bit of a look at the path we have cut. Who are we, why are we? Just because things are there or law doesn't always mean their right. Who will watch the watchers indeed? We want to be something, we want national treasures, we want to be a nation but we continue to stumble over our past and our shady HEROES.
Helen Norton 1993
Artists Statement from the Studio
Peter Holland - Summer Shorts (short stories publication) - Illustration
Johnathan Smith - Nortons Heroe's - Fremantle Arts
1993 David Bromfield Review - Tongue in Cheek Look at Bush Myths - West Australian
1993 Who Is The Hero - Linda Hodges - Arts Unlimited