Behind the Scenes with 'Face of Tribes'

'Face of the Tribes' (2009) was a large-scale painting commissioned by Island Vibe Festival. Acrylic on king sized cotton bedsheet, 265cm wide x 270 cm deep. Approx. 100 hours work.

This piece is deliberately androgynous; "she" contains "he".

Simple yet powerful, she holds space, non-judgemental and compassionate; allows for everyone and everything we might be feeling; she is an expression of all people, all tribes, all religions; strength and vulnerability, joy and sorrow; integration, and ultimately, peace with it all! A protector Spirit!

 Respect for ancient wisdom, intrinsic to present peace, shaping the future... I intuited symbolism that resonated most with me, select tribal markings being about feeling more than cultural accuracy... Eyes that gaze, windows to soul, direct yet gentle, eye see you, you I, you-nique, yet same, truth remains, unwavering... 

The gum leaves 'cause we are in Australia, imperfect and hol'e'y, 'cause aren't we all!. The colours of this land, red, black, and yellow heart on third eye means we must always try to come from our hearts, see and act with, love.

The dots represent Aboriginality and also the Songlines and story trails of our lives. The footprints are tracing the ancient and ancestral cellular memory that lies imprinted within us all.

Central, our intrinsic natures, held by the "Y" shape lines of the Hindu 'talika'; channeling divine power, each to live, make manifest, our individual spiritual beliefs.

The Moko is Maori tradition, gifting us strength in these changing times. The red 'hair beads' are a bit African, a crown of spheres, blood red, primal, cyclical, spiralling life.

The feathers represent American Indian and also Amazonian tribes, all colours of the rainbow, with the Australian white cockatoo feather in the middle to keep a lookout for us all, as cockatoos often post one bird higher in the tree for this purpose!

The Sun on the left brain- right side, active, male principle, all we give out.

The Moon on right brain- left side, feminine, receptive principle, all we take in.

In balance.

And of course, the land, extending out, beyond our vision... the meandering blue line is the rivers... our tears, and also a reminder to see broad and clear, the totality and beauty of it all!

The final triumphant mark I made after approx.100 solid hours work, was the handprint, my signature!...  I was recently asked, and what about my own Celtic tribal roots? Funnily enough I didn't really include these at the time of painting as I didn't see them as Indigenous, which of course we all are to this planet, so I guess its my final white hand-print that speaks of this!

My friend 'Morgs' gave me the opportunity to paint several large Main-stage backdrops over about 5 consecutive years, for his amazing event Island Vibe Festival on Stradbroke Island. They have dressed many East Coast events since and almost become iconic...I feel in a way that everyone owns them now!

'Face of the Tribes', debuted in the Big Top (Main Stage) on Minjerribah (Straddie Is.) in 2009. You can find Face of the Tribes on:

- Mens (Unisex) T-Shirts

- Women's T-Shirts

- Cushion Covers

- Stretched Canvas Print

- Wall Hanging/ Tapestry

- Prints on Paper or Cards

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