Dhany Babanya (Ruby, my friend from the North) 2015


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Product Description

This painting is about my grandmother, Mary Dowling, and her friend from Broome whose name was Ruby. My grandmother was taken away from her Badimaya mother when she was almost 12 years old and her sister Dorothea was almost 9 years old. Both were made to work many hours at the orphanage and my grandmother was placed into unpaid child labour in the laundry at St. Joseph’s Orphanage, Subiaco. My grandmother was taken away by her estranged white father who was a surveyor for Lord Forrest using my great grandmother as slave labour. He left them both at an Anglican Church but as there was no orphanage attached to the church the sisters of Mercy took them in to work for them. My grandmother lost contact with Ruby when she went back to live in Broome. Nana assumed she must have married a white man as my grandmother had done. They were both housed together after being taken out of the orphanage to assimilate which was the law at that time. Ruby worked in two picture theatres as an usherette and my grandmother was a ticket collector on the trams that used to run through Perth during WW2. Many young “quarter-caste” women were placed into assimilations houses with white matrons. My grandmother’s assimilation house was in Wembley. Each job was given in high traffic zones where service men during the war would be located so that they would be more likely to be proposed to by white men. During this time, Original sovereign Nations people were not allowed into Perth without a permit by an employer. There was a curfew in effect with the infamous red line of racial segregation right up until 1954. If you broke the curfew you were arrested and locked up.

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Dimensions 64 × 3 × 121 cm

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