Welcome to my web portal. I acknowledge with deep respect the traditional owners of the land on which I live and work and the land referenced in may of my writings. I acknowledged that this land always was and always will be Aboriginal Land. i pay my respects to Elders, past present and emerging. I am grateful to Elders whose names and images feature in my writings.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples are advised that some text and images may include references to deceased persons.
I invite you to explore my life and interests online using the menu on the right. My hope is that you will find material that will engage us in conversation and reflection.
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May 4th is World Labyrinth Day.We honour and acknowledge the First Nations peoples of the land on which we place our labyrinths.May we learn to walk in harmony. May we find the stillness of the centre of our lives. May we remember the footsteps of all who have walked and traveled before us May our journey in and our journey out be a grace of awareness and healing. May the rhythm of life protect us at the edge and nurture us at our centre.
On this World Labyrinth Day I walk the sacred path united to my ancestors whose DNA I carry I my body.
I walk this sacred path with a commitment to walk gently on the earth.
I walk this sacred path in solidarity with all who seek refuge and asylum from war, exploitation and terror.
I walk this sacred path as I will walk with the poor and hungry to a place of justice and welcome.
I walk this sacred path united to my sisters and brothers around the globe who seek a spirituality that nurtures life.
Now as you can see from this icon, Basil wasn’t one of the fashion dandies of the East. Long before Mark Twain penned his quotable quote about cloths making the man and naked people having little or no influence in society Basil was streaking around the countryside rebuking Ivan the Terrible.
Basil comes out of the noble tradition of the Holy Fools. In contemporary terms he could easily be described as a Court Jester. He was not into timid social reforms of petitions and novenas. Instead he was known to destroy the merchandise of dishonest tradesmen and hurl stones at the houses of the wealthy. It seems he made the cleaning of the Temple a model for daily life.
Adopting Basil’s practices may restore a bit more theatrical gravitas to the Church’s mission and would no doubt make for interesting videos. So, if you happen to see me unclad and upturning the tables at a casino you know I am only celebrating the saintly practice of an Eastern holy man.
Tonight my social media feed is carrying sad news of the death of John Doherty, artist, storyteller, smoker, Catholic and so much more.
I came to know John in my role as a community worker supporting people with disability and mental health issues to live with independence. John and I were the same age and shared a similar love of cinema, culture and religion.
We documented each other in the remarkable exchange of camera and paintbrush. On my bedroom wall I gaze with gratitude at a portrait John painted of me a few years ago. It captures my passion for Aboriginal politics with the colours that I wear around the brim of my hat.
Tonight as a tribute to John I publish for the first time an insight into my collection of portraits taken of John over the last ten or more years. This collection includes rare images of John in his home/studio where he playfully poses with the ciggie always close at hand.
Farewell John, I will miss our conversations about Audrey, Cary and those idols of the silver screen. I was always remember our last conversation in the hospital where you asked me for communion and a coffee.
Rest in peace from the struggles and the worry. May the Malboro Man and St Peter welcome you home and may the angels sing you gently as you join those heroes you brought to life on canvas.
Another NAIDIC Week across the country has provided opportunities for sharing culture, community and the political reality of First Nations peoples in Australia.
I spent much of the week taking advantage of the many local events to immerse myself in relationships and awareness of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Three moments stand out for me as highlights of the week:
On Monday of NAIDOC Week I attended the Brisbane Launch in City Hall. Later in the afternoon I dropped into a local city bar which is a favourite hangout. I was wearing my trademark hat with the Aboriginal colours around the brim. As I walked into the bar a women called out to me and admired the hat. She introduced herself as Jackie from the Torres Strait Islands and we chatted about some of the events scheduled for the week. Jackie insisted on a selfie with me in my hat and asking my name said she would tag me as “Uncle Tony Robertson” in her post. To be tagged and named as “Uncle” in such a way is an honour and a responsibility particularly as a white fella. This is the tag that some of the young Murris have also given me from our conversations and encounters on city streets.
The second moment happened on Friday of NAIDOC Week. I boarded a bus from my usual stop for the city and three young Murri boys sat a couple of seats in front of me. Again I was wearing my trademark hat with the Aboriginal colours which they noticed. After a few minutes one of the boys turned to me and asked where I got the hat. This was the beginning of a conversation that took us into the city over the next 25 minutes. We sat across two seats, a 66 year old white man and a young 18 year old holding the plastic bottle from which he inhaled as we spoke. It was a remarkable conversation about the reality of addiction, the alienation from culture and the families and people we knew in common. My phone camera with its collection of images of Aboriginal Elders is a great asset in these moments. The young man told me his name and proudly spoke of his tribal group for which he had a hand signal. He trusted me with. his personal details and I promised to look out for him if I was around the spaces he hangs out. We got off at the same stop but walked in different directions.
The other Aboriginal artist whose work is currently displayed in the Francis Rush Centre but not mentioned in the online resource is Fiona Foley. A panel of the Cathedral art collection is a brief clue to the series that are mounted in what is now a foyer space:
The story of these beautiful works and their mistreatment is recorded strangely enough in the documentation published by those who agitated for the works removal from their original installation inside the Cathedral of St Stephen. Since their removal the works have suffered from neglect and abuse in unprofessional storage.
Telling the story of Fiona Foley’s was an important part of acknowledging that the voice and truth themes of NAIDOC 2019 will take all of us into uncomfortable places on the journey to reconciliation.
My images and captures of my support for events during NAIDOC 2019 are available here.