Sally Harrison's Dot Paintings

Sally Harrison's Dot Paintings

In 1949 a white man raped my crippled 14 yr old mother. She was exiled to the far north & I to Bomaderry Mission to become a domestic servant. The missionaries imbued me with a strict code of honesty, self-discipline & love of goodness. There was no disrespect, disobedience, lies or shirking of responsibilities, but when I was 6, I was adopted. My identity was erased & I ceased to exist as a person.

I can't express the horrors of a new home, name & religion which switched & split my brains by the enforced use of my right hand & chained me to Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer's opinion that half-castes were only fit for domestic service. Like an ignorant lackey, the government bowed to his prejudice, stripped me of my humanity & classified me as "sub-human".

My white parents uprooted what was cultivated in me & initiated a cruel & effective assimilation policy rooted in ancient history. They denied friendships & limited me to the use of my cerebellum which controls voluntary movement & fine motor skills. Every evening after school, I helped them clean the Commonwealth Bank. When I was 8, extreme boredom drove me to learn to read Time Magazine & Reader's Digest in the staff room as I waited to go home after doing my chores. Thankfully, when I was 10, the nuns persuaded them to let me attend Saturday morning art classes.

In 1987, after a lifetime of dumb servility, my white persona disintegrated. In 1992 I taught myself to dot paint to reconnect to my aboriginality & undertook the laborious task of piecing together my shattered mind. In 2005, I rejected parental & social ideas & returned to those of my mother figure at Bomaderry, Sister Kennedy. Her example taught me to work & do without like an adult from infancy which prepared me for adulthood.

The key to self-acceptance has been the restoration of self to its original state called the brain, subordinate to my early childhood training. Between 2014-2017 I re-educated myself at home on the origins of cultural & religious beliefs. I compared them with Aboriginal beliefs & languages & found similar beliefs & many identical words to those of ancient Sumer (primeval Chaldea) Akkad (Assyria) & Ur (Babylonia).

Our primeval creators called our land Arralu, the sacred land below the horizon. They imparted knowledge through The Dreaming; basis of all aspects of life in traditional Aboriginal societies, eg: land management & territorial rights, division of labour, hunting & gathering, kinship laws to avoid Inbreeding, social control & star lore. They forbade creation of images of them in human or animal form & gave us sacred symbols & designs to represent them in sacred art (our religion). Above all, our life's purpose was to maintain this sacred land & preserve it for our Survival & future generations; hence, no wars.

After 40,000+ years living in harmony with the earth (our cathedral), a mere 247 years cannot erase what Is encoded in our psyche & DNA. As Cromagnon Man separated from the rest of mankind for tens of thousands of years, all our needs were met by the ancient arts of stone & wood technology & a wealth of knowledge of bush foods & medicines.

A lifetime of misery learning to be flexible & live with adversity, taught me that necessity is the mother of invention. 15 years of teaching myself Aboriginal beliefs & symbolism in order to deliver TAFE drawing & painting courses to black & white inmates at 5 correctional centres, taught me that painting mirrors life. I faced exactly the same mental, emotional & physical challenges as I did in real life. Teaching those less fortunate than myself to find pleasure & self-esteem through drawing & painting taught me to overcome the worst aspects of my social conditioning: fear of being myself, fear of failure & fear of what others think of me & my abilities.

My favourite artists influenced my development as a humane being. Their heartfelt visions & ideas gave me wings to rise above the limitations imposed by my arrested development.


Indigenous Themes and Stories


Wildflowers in God's Own Country

Birds and Animals