Finalist Portia Gearch Memorial Award SH Ervin
When they take our water, they take our blood (Badger Bates , Artist)
oil on linen
Uncle Badger Bates is an artist, activist and a Barkandji Elder. His people are the Barkandji people, translating to the people of the Barka (Darling River).
They are the traditional custodians of the Barka, having lived on her banks for tens of thousands of years. Over recent years the Barka has become very sick due to mismanagement, at the end of 2018 over a million fish died from a blue green algae bloom- sucking the oxygen from the stagnant water. The state of the river has left many feeling a deep sense of despair and helplessness. For the Barkandji people the Barka is their identity, without water they are no longer able to hand down their culture to future generations.
For the past four years I have been working under the mentorship of Uncle Badger and living on Barkadji Country with the community of Wilcannia, together we created the exhibition “Barka, the forgotten river” that is currently touring. My painting of Uncle Badger captures his heart break when seeing the river die. This painting represents the sadness that is felt by not only his community but all people who live along the Barka.”