Woman of the South
Hi, my name is Natalie Childs. I was born in Dharawal Country. As kids, my 2 sisters, 2 brothers, and I spent much of our childhood alongside the riverbanks of western Sydney with my father. Dad taught us how to fish, how to recognize and name Australian native trees and bush tucker, he would tell us all that he knew about the waterways, the soil, the native animals, and most of all the importance of silence and presence while surrounded by nature to truly connect with our environment. His mother (my beautiful nan) Mary was born in Bundjalung country. Her father, an indigenous man sadly died on the railway when she was a young girl. My nan was taken and re-homed by the state. Separated from her brothers at a state home for girls. She was made to feel ashamed of her heritage, and throughout my childhood, we knew about her background but we weren’t allowed to speak of it with my nan, only with my father. Nan sadly passed away in 2012 and since then I have had a strong pull to connect with the indigenous aspect of my bloodline. I hadn’t touched a paintbrush since high school art class until lockdown 2020. Living on Bundjalung country — Byron Bay (the same country my nan was born in), I started to play with different kinds of paints and styles. Each time I tried abstract (even after doing an abstract art course) they failed miserably and time and time again I went back to painting dot work. It felt like home. I feel connected to my nan when I’m in my creative flow. I don't paint traditional dream time stories as they are not my story to tell. I paint intuitively with the greatest love and respect for Australian Aboriginal culture. Now living in Yuin country, South Coast NSW, I like to think that with every moment I spend planning a piece, with every brushstroke and each time the dot work kisses the canvas, I release the shame that my nan was made to feel by our society. The shame that she sadly wasn’t able to release in this lifetime.