Occupying the gallery’s top floor, D Harding’s pigment paintings and site-specific interventions include white ochre pigment transported from Aboriginal lands in Central Queensland and store-bought yellow pigments. The artist uses these to frost the gallery windows up to head height, and flood the skylights with a yellowish hue, implying the artist’s embodiment of the reality of materials brought from thousands of miles away, representing not only culture and heritage, but also place, landscape and memory.
Two further paintings on stretched linen, again featuring Harding’s collected pigments and materials, incorporate not only a surface of crushed antiretroviral PrEP drugs and lapis lazuli oil paint, but also a deep red colour, made from earth gathered, on one side of a diptych, from the artist’s grandmother’s country (Ghungalu) and, on the pendant piece, from their grandfather’s country (Bidjara). These works suffuse the spaces with a distillation of the knowledge and experience gathered across millennia by Harding’s ancestors, both ancient and recent, both pre-colonial and colonial. Harding’s considered and gestural acts both channel and render physical the autonomy of sites and substances of great importance to First Nations Australians and, by association, to the places and ecologies that have nourished human wellbeing. Harding’s grandfather identified the relation between people in place as yoonthalla.
D Harding is an Aboriginal artist and a descendant of the Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal people. They work with a range of media exploring the social and visual languages of their ancestors, drawing upon and maintaining the spiritual and philosophical sensibilities of their cultural inheritance. Through the use of traditional techniques such as stencilling, Harding’s work evokes the spiritual and philosophical delicacy present in their heritage. This approach allows Harding to immerse themself in layered historical references, exploring themes of colonisation and globalisation, and looking at the residual attrition of their people. “I used to work among what I described as ‘the burden of truth that is shouldered by those who are silenced.’ Perhaps I have learned that there are negotiations to be held when the opportunity to be witnessed and when urgencies of social and climate challenges are experienced simultaneously in the site of performance. Because these experiences are, I suggest, distinct from consolidated practices and places of being.”
I have learned your history, as well as my own, 2023
Kaolin, crushed PrEP tablets, lapis lazuli, oil paint on linen
180 x 150 cm
70 7/8 x 59 in
She come from the low-country, he come from the high-country, 2023
Earth pigments and acrylic on linen. Left panel: Ghungalu red soil and acrylic binder, Right panel: Bidjara red soil and acrylic binder
180 x 390 cm (2 panels)
70 7/8 x 153 1/2 in (2 panels)