Born 1967, Wiradjuri Nation, Sydney, Australia
Lives and works in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia
The Queen's Road
2017, duration 8 mins, looped
Commissioned by Transport for NSW
Odd-numbered days throughout July 2019, alternating 6am-3pm and 3pm-12am
While Australia watched and listened to every step of the Queen's first-class journey, what was the experience of people off the road, in the bush, by the rivers and in the gullies? Invisible Australians who were also touched by the 1954 Royal Tour of Queen Elizabeth II.
Summer dresses give comfort, they are pretty to the eye. A new Queen in the nation's spotlight and an invisible and vulnerable Aboriginal woman running scared. Are you lost in the dream?
An embraced and honoured Queen and an abandoned and lonely Aboriginal woman. Regal in their own ways (and equally pretty), wearing classic 1950s frocks. Memories re-awaken in a dreamlike state, as they travel together - two worlds, two cultures, side-by-side.
The Aboriginal woman is seen alone in various bush landscapes. She is invisible to the droves who line the roads, train-lines and docks to catch a mere glimpse of 'our' Queen. Even in solitude (while on country), she is never alone; the trees and waterways hold her people, ancestors and future.
She is part of a collective memory: her great grandmother's recollections, her mother’s and her own. She runs and falls, picking herself up again and again. Will you put out your hand?
The Queen’s Road gives this 'bush queen' an equal stage, lifting the veil of invisibility for an audience that is unable to deny her presence. She is many Aboriginal women of 1954, and they fall in love with her breathtaking beauty and strength.
Where is she running, lost in confusion? She doesn't know, yet she keeps moving. She runs in search of safety, looking for belonging. This journey is not direct: dead ends at every turn, stop signs and red lights. Will your eyes follow her, or will you choose to cheer-on the Queen?
- Conceived and Directed by Karla Dickens
- Cinematography and Post Production: John A Douglas
- Model/Performer: Cindy Paden
Karla Dickens completed a Diploma of Fine Arts at the National Art School in Sydney in 1990 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the same institution in 2000. She has held more than twenty solo exhibitions and participated in countless group exhibitions and community based projects between 1994 and now.
In 2017 Karla's work was included in The National at Carriageworks, Sydney; Defying Empire Triennial at The National Gallery, Canberra; and Grounded at The National Art School. In 2016, Karla's paintings were projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House as part of Vivid LIVE. Her work was featured in significant Sydney exhibitions, including Darkness on the Edge of Town at Artbank, and Sixth Sense at the National Art School. In recent years Karla has participated in the Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards 2015 at Art Gallery of Western Australia; TarraWarra Biennial 2014: Whisper in My Mask at TarraWarra Museum of Art; and Wiradjuri Ngurambanggu at Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA).
The driving forces behind Karla's need to communicate are her Indigenous (Wiradjuri) heritage, sexuality and life experiences as a soulful connected woman. She uses recycled everyday items to explore notions of persistence amidst inherent violence and misunderstanding. Made with uncommon rawness and daring, her meticulously fabricated works emanate a rare truthfulness and honesty. Edgy and hard to confine, Karla often cannibalises existing works to create new ones. She presents a wide-ranging and unique interpretation of the world, where past and present collide in a multi-dimensional kaleidoscope of her own making.
Karla Dickens is represented by Andrew Baker Art Dealer