Portraiture is a major focus of the Cruthers Collection of Women's Art, and forms the basis of its latest exhibition, Julie Dowling: Family and Friends.
Julie Dowling's early interest in portraiture was triggered by her family's quest to reclaim their history and reconnect with those family members who had been separated or lost to each other as members of the Stolen Generation. While Dowling's formal art training honed her technique, that same burning desire to communicate the complicated and often heart-wrenching histories of her extended network of family continues as the central motivating force in her work.
Drawing on artworks from 1995 to 2008, Julie Dowling; Family and Friends is an exhibition that charts the vast breadth of issues that drive Dowling's practice - racism, broken families, personal histories and the environment.
I felt the need to document what racism did to my family back then, and still do ... Racism isn't political by the way, it's about rights and fair treatment. And as someone who is treated with racism almost daily, I paint from my community first and hopefully talk about the human condition ... as a lesson in how to be civil and moral.
Julie Dowling, Self-portrait: Djeran (detail), 2006, oil on canvas, 62 x 91 cm,
Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art, Courtesy of Julie Dowling.