George Williams, originally from Brewarrina, visited Walgett in 1979 to visit the family, and twenty years later calls Walgett home to himself, his five children and his eighteen grandchildren. A Barkindji man on his mother’s side, his art derives from his cultural heritage.
“What I do is drawn mainly from the Ngemba tradition, but sometimes I’ll incorporate ‘dot work’ from the Barkindji and incorporate my mother’s side”.
George carves emu egg shells, paints traditional art and also a more contemporary form of landscape art. He discovered art as a young child, and never stopped exploring his creative pursuits.
“I used to enter sketching competitions at local festivals, started carving emu eggs at around 11 or 12 and then have just followed the artistic path wherever it led me”.
As he learned more and more about his history, his culture, and the story of his family, the traditional art became more important to him as a key way to connect with his family.
“I lived away in Glen Innes for a bit, where I lost connection with the cultural story – there you were ‘Aboriginal’ but without the cultural traditions that came with that. When I moved back to Walgett I was able to reconnect with that, so it began to inform the art I was making”.
George really felt a strong connection through making artifacts and tools under tutelage from a local elder. This work took him onto country, where stories were told and knowledge was shared, along with language.
“I feel really connected to my country now since I’ve found out what it was all about. Last year, at Gundabooka I learned that my father and my mother shared the same country at this place. I knew this to be true when I was met by the emu, Dhinnawhan, my mother’s totem – I knew then that I was welcome on the country”.
Today George works in the most contemporary of forms, photography. His nightscape photographs of the night sky take him out into the landscape at the quietest times, under the same stars of his mother’s and father’s country, and with the closest possible connection to himself.
“In the future I would like to pursue my photography and my language, and find a way to incorporate both into my art”.