It all started a couple of months ago when Irina Spinadel, a French-Russian who is devoted to all things literary, rang up and asked me to give a talk on art and writing. Specifically, she said, she wanted me talk about the parallel journey through Wiradjuri country that my brother Tim Miller, who is a painter, and I, had taken during the last couple of years. She had seen some of my brother’s paintings and had fallen in love with them and she knew about my writing journey too, so, she asked, how about I talk about both?
Before I knew it, because Irina has that way with her, I was saying, ‘yes, of course’. Ever since thenI have been saying, ‘Help – this is huge! What have I let myself in for!’
How can I talk about the vastness of our individual discoveries as we explored the history and people and landscape of the Wiradjuri where we grew up ? For me it resulted in a book-length memoir, The Mind of a Thief, for Tim it resulted in two exhibitions in Sydney in 2010; for both of us it took over our lives for a couple of years.
After ranging around the territory for a while, I decided to find my way in through a question that one of the Wiradjuri Elders asked me a while ago – ‘Do ya have any blackfella in ya?’, because in a way, that was the starting point for both of us. Were we European outsiders, or did we have a deeper connection? How do European modes of expression, writing and figurative art, relate to the landscape and the way of life of the Wiradjuri?
If anyone wants to come along to La Brasserie in Crown St (just around the corner from William St) on Tues 5th April and hear where these questions led me, you are very welcome. See the Invite below.