Music inspires me. It makes me want to go to the studio and paint. As a child I used to sing Cole Porter’s song ‘ give me land, lots of land under starry skies above, don’t fence me in ‘ I felt then it was one of God’s greatest gifts to be free, and to express the essence of the land, to feel the earth beneath your feet, to understand its natural ways, and express the story. It requires passion to express this.
I remember earlier this year reading an eulogy on Aboriginal singer songwriter Ruby Hunter written by Paul Grabowski that made the hairs stand up on my arms. From a way different genre than the song I first mentioned, Paul Grabowski wrote that Ruby’s sound was like a lament, a moan, which came from a place outside of time and place. With her voice she evoked the red earth of the interior, a vibration, a hum, her story…What really resonated was that he conveyed Ruby’s power which he said she carried lightly. He summed up with ‘ What is greatness in music? It is a distillation of all of life’s imponderables into sounds that articulate, in time, that dimension over which we have the least control- the beauty and sadness of life’s river.’
This is what I admire so much about Ruby. I sat in admiration through her concert she gave with her husband Archie Roach at the Dreamtime Festival at Woodford a few years ago and I felt her passion. I wanted the same for my work then, and I still do. We all have a lot to learn from women like Ruby and the legacy she has left us.