Artwork sheds a light on Myall Creek Massacre

Artwork sheds a light on Myall Creek Massacre

Screening on ABC 9.30 pm Tuesday 19 November, Quilty – Painting the Shadows   documents the Ben Quilty creating a major work about the Myall Creek massacre.

The documentary depicts how a series of drawings over a number of months culminates in the creation of one of Quilty’s Rorschach paintings. In this process, an original painted image is both damaged and duplicated by pressing one panel onto another while the paint is still wet.

With the permission of Gamilaraay Elders, Ben Quilty travelled to Myall Creek in Northern NSW in early 2019 to explore the site and create his painting over a number of months.

“I am looking for symbols of the beauty of the place, the sadness of the place, the incredible violence of this place” Quilty said.

The Uniting Church played a role in creating the Myall Creek memorial. In early 1998 at a Uniting Church conference, Rev. John Brown lamented the massacres that had occurred across in Australia, and recommended attendees attend one of the massacre sites. Gomeroi elder Sue Blacklock later showed him the site at Myall Creek. In October 1998, the Uniting Church initiated a conference on reconciliation at Myall Creek, leading to the creation of the memorial in 2000.

Rev. Ivan Roberts is Co-Chairperson of the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial, a committee made up of equal numbers of Aboriginal and non-indigenous members. His Co-Chairperson colleague is Uncle Lyall Munro Sr.

Located on the Bingara-Delungra Road near Inverell, the Myall Creek Memorial details the events that led up to the Myall Creek massacre, where 28 Wirrayaraay women, children, and older men were murdered by a group of stockmen.

On the afternoon of Sunday 10 June, 1838, 12 stockmen brutally slaughtered a group of 28 Aboriginal men, women and children who were camped peacefully at the station of Myall Creek.

Quilty Painting the shadows will air on ABC and stream on ABC iView on Tuesday 19 November from 9.30pm.

Visit the Friends of Myall Creek Memorial website for more on the memorial and future plans.  

Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor

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