Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia 1994 - 2005

At the end of December 1993, I went to Australia for a holiday with an Australian man whom I impetuously fell in love with at a 3-month Tibetan Buddhist retreat in France. I never intended to stay in Australia, but he refused to live in England. We lived for twelve years in a house I bought on three acres adjoining the Blue Mountains National Park. Exotic flowers were always in bloom in the garden, mist hung in the valleys like in a Chinese screen, and extraordinary wildlife animated the land with colour, song, and movement. I felt surrounded by an immense presence. This vast space and intimate diversity were what I had been trying to convey in my English painting for many years. Yet I felt homesick for my son and life in England, and found it difficult to paint the particularity of the stark beauty surrounding me. I had given up too much and felt no sense of belonging or sense of place. I was a gardener in a drought-ridden land where the activity seemed not only futile but inappropriate. During this time, a chance meeting with Stolen Generation Aboriginal artist Barbara Weir resulted in her asking me to record her stories. I volunteered to transcribe her stories and those of twelve other Anmatyerre and Alyawarre women artists at the remote Aboriginal outstation of Utopia in the country's arid, red centre. Each time I returned to my Blue Mountains' studio, I increasingly erased my work so as not to appropriate the appearance of Aboriginal artists' artworks. I often imprinted pigments from one surface to another in my attempts to find an appropriate gesture in an appropriated land. I also began to make and exhibit installations of sandstone, plaster, and rusted metal I found on my land. In 2000, I received a PhD scholarship from the University of New South Wales in Sydney to research issues of place and displacement, and I was awarded a PhD in 2005.

© Copyright Victoria King 2023.