Curated By Dr. Bronwyn Bancroft
My name is Euphemia Augustina Leoda Bostock. I am a proud Bundjalung-Mununjali woman, born in Tweed Heads in 1936. Most people call me Phemie, except for my family, grandchildren, great grandchildren and extended family who call me Barbin. In our home, four generations of family live, love and learn from each other.
Growing up, I was very lucky with the parents I had and my four brothers. They supported me in raising my two beautiful daughters, Cheryll and Tracey, and throughout my development as an artist. My daughters, in turn, continue to lovingly support me and lend a critical eye to the works I create.
Having worked in a range of art forms and media over the last 40 or so years, starting with sculpture and moving on to screenprint, lino print, textile design and pottery, I use the techniques and knowledge I have learned through each of these in the materials and forms I love.
My love of working with clay and experimenting with glazes to create ceramics inspired by my cultural memory, family, nature and the people around me, led to the creation of my ten coolamons – each one representing and celebrating each of us ten Aboriginal artists who were the founding members of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative.
As a sculptor, in 2005 I collaborated with my dear friend, Jan Shaw (my teacher at the Sculpture Society many years before), on the Warawara Friendship Stone commissioned by Macquarie University and housed in the Sculpture Park there.
Because I love working with fabrics, especially silks, transforming and bringing them to life with dyes and paints, it seems natural that I use them in much of my art and see myself as a textile artist.
This love led to the creation of my Possum Skin design, inspired by the story my Dad told us about the cloaks made of possum skin worn by our people in the colder areas, the photo of a small piece of possum skin cloak I carried with me for many years and took into my class at Sydney College of the Arts, and the advice of my teacher there, George Hardwick, to use my cultural memory, use my own design, and make it big and bold!
My Possum Skin textile was collected by the National Gallery of Australia in 1988, reproduced in 1999 by Australia Post for the Design Australia Stamp Series, reproduced for an exhibition that travelled to Athens in 2004, and exhibited in the New Indigenous Gallery that opened in 2011.
I also see myself as a builder because my inspiration comes to me when I am actually handling the material I am working with. My silk paintings have featured in the Aboriginal Women’s Group exhibitions held at the Chrissie Cotter Gallery in Camperdown and at the Boomalli Aboriginal Art Gallery.
Although I have, for many years, resisted the idea of a solo show, no one knows my work better than sister/daughter/friend and respected fellow artist, Bronwyn Bancroft, who has curated this exhibition and encouraged and supported me to do this show. From our time together in Paris in 1987, where we worked side by side as designers of the first Aboriginal fashions, worn by Aboriginal models, featured in Paris in the ‘Australis Down Under’ Au Printemps Fashion Show, our friendship has grown.
Bronwyn’s support has been enduring and instrumental in my growth as an artist, from buying the shed I had always dreamed of so I could work from the back of the small house I shared with my mother, daughters, and three grandchildren; to advising and mentoring me in selling my work; to the many shows she has curated that we have been in together, including our show, ‘Back to Back and Black to Black’, that describes us and our friendship – we have never stopped loving each other, we are part of each other’s extended family and we have always got each other’s backs!
So, you see, I am surrounded with love. My work is Made with Love. I welcome and invite you to share in this love.