Deb Bain-King

  • Where the Water Gathers, performative action, 50 x 70 cm, Giclee print, Somerset Museum rag, 2021, Photo credit: Emma Byrnes. Commissioned by Maribyrnong City Council. When the curator of group show Hidden. said “find something hidden in Footscray” I recovered stories of a lost creek.The small creek was once the only source of freshwater in the area pre and post-invasion. The women of the area would come together to share community and conversation. Research into items found at shipwrecks on the coast of Australia revealed many women brought along lace and fabric for weddings and curtains. These being essential to the lives they sought to establish in the unknown lands. Bluestone, the result of ancient lava flows, forms the Footscray landscape and became one of its main exports. In this performance based work I brought the two elements together to enact the paradox of shame and thankfulness, recognizing hopefulness and destruction.
  • Where the Water Gathers, performative action and projection, 50 x 70 cm, Giclee print on 300gsm Somerset Museum rag, photo credit: Deb Bain-King, 2021. Billy Button Creek was the only source of freshwater in the Footscray area pre and post-invasion. This photo documents a ritual of honouring place. I remembered the early colonial women who gathered at this spring and creek to wash clothes. I returned water to the lost creek and acknowledged the damage done. Without commemoration and apology I would not be able to come to an understanding of the land that I enter onto. The bodily engagement of walking and performance allows me to connect to where I am. This makes it possible to ask questions of my community in the right way and listen to their responses in the right way.
  • A Story of Billy Button Creek, a sung and spoken word collaborative performance event with the Wefo Singers and musician Jennifer McSweeney, Footscray Library, in Naarm/Melbourne. Photo credit: Emma Byrnes. 2021. The event followed on from Where the Water Gathers in 2021, to use spoken word to acknowledge the traditional owners, and the damage done at the time of colonial settlement to Billy Button Creek. The centrality of water to our lives was symbolised by the instruction for people to gather a cup of rainwater or bring a memory of water. People gathered the rainwater for a ceremony which returned the water to the creek.‘The Water Song’ was composed by musician Jennifer McSweeney after hearing the story of the little creek and it’s persistence through time and drought. It tells of the healing nature of water, and the bringing to the surface of memory and the deep connection we have for each other.
  • Silence in Return, projection and performance, installation view, Shetland Islands, 2012. I travelled to the Shetland Islands to follow a story of a relative who had been imprisoned in 1903 for being suspected of burying her newborn child in the peat. Once there I read court notes from her trial. The words of those who had been watching her every move for the last month of her pregnancy rang in my ears. Silence had been her only protection. This work enacts the feeling of being constantly watched by the small community.
  • ELEMENTAL 1, performative action, Giclee print, Somerset Museum rag, 70 x 50 cm, Unst. 2019 As I walked her slow progress across the peat, it was with a sense of coming home. A feeling of finding where I belonged and the deep ties of family to the land. Yet there was also a feeling of being severed from the landscape of home. Of knowing I was to leave, like those who came before me when the fishing stocks were depleted and making a living was no longer possible. The grief of leaving the ties of family and home, became expressed by the wailing wind.

I am an artist living in Naarm (Melbourne) Australia. My work emerges from walking, a consideration of place, and draws on the inter-connectedness of living things, environment and community.
I have been making and showing works of art both in Naarm (Melbourne), and overseas for almost twenty years, as an artist, community activist and curator.
“I unearth lost stories of place through walking and talking to the people I meet. Stories help make sense of who we are and where we’ve come from. Stories of place are particularly important when people settle in an unfamiliar environment, such as in a city. They help us understand the cultural systems of our new community, make clear what is valued and how to fit in. They show us how to meld our identity so as to encourage relationships and a sense of belonging to place. They also help us understand the things that are worth protecting and how together we can do just that.”
“My art practice is about finding connection to place and community. I aim to bring feeling, knowledge and experience into a shared awareness. I do this with ritual, performance, community events, gift giving, photography, video and drawing ” – DBK
I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Bunurong peoples of the Kulin Nation and pay our respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging. Always was always will be Aboriginal Land

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