Interview with Aboriginal artist Kathleen Buzzacott
From a young age Kathleen, of Pitjantjatjara descent, lived with her family in a remote Aboriginal community in Central Australia. Her designs are inspired by life experiences in a time free of modern technology. Treasured family times were spent out bush on hunting trips, searching for bush tucker, seeking out desert waterholes and playing with desert creatures. Kathleen still lives in the bush with her husband and their two sons, on his maternal land west of Alice Springs. We have really enjoyed spending some time getting to know Kathleen and wanted to share her life as a painter with our much loved fans.
1 . What/who has been the greatest influence in the direction of your life, that is, in becoming a painter?
The greatest influence in my life in becoming a painter was my sister. I first started painting with her in 1994. My aunt and my cousins are also painters. All of them paint very neatly, so I always thought that was how it was supposed to be done and I followed in their footsteps.
2. What have you learned through your work as a painter?
Through my painting I have learnt a lot about myself. I am a storyteller. I learnt that being an Aboriginal person is something worth celebrating and that is reflected in my art work.
3. What do you wish to express through your paintings? For future generations? Your legacy?
I always encourage young people who have started painting to keep going until they find their own unique style. They are our next generation of artists. I enjoy people's reactions to my paintings as a lot of love goes into them. I have even had people cry tears of joy to see them. That to me makes it all worth it, to see people happy. When they have my art work in their home, each time they look at it, it will always make them feel good inside. That´s my legacy.
4. What are your favourite themes for painting and how do you arrive at the decision to paint a certain theme ?
I paint family hunting and gathering stories and children's stories. I tell the stories that I know. Stories of living in the bush. Happy memories about my life, therefore I paint what makes me happy.
5. What ambitions do you have for your future as a painter?
For the future I want to continue what I am doing, collaborating with Koh Living. Also, having people from all over the world visit my art studio is amazing. They learn a lot about Aboriginal art and culture when they are here. I also love to see things grow. So who knows, maybe the studio will grow in ways l don´t know of just yet.
6. How do you view the future of Aboriginal art?
Aboriginal Art is so diverse. All over Australia different tribes have their own way of telling their stories. Here in the Red Centre of Australia I see art evolving constantly. From older people who have just begun painting in their twilight years to emerging young talent - each expressing their own way of telling stories. Aboriginal Art is a movement that keeps on growing, as it is one of the best sources of economic development for Aboriginal people living in communities.
7. How has your community been impacted by COVID19 ? and what do you fear most at this moment?
Aboriginal Artists never stopped producing art when Corona Virus came. Many Independent Artists went online to sell their works, and many artists in the bio security protected areas continue to produce artworks on their communities. When its all over and we return to some sort of new normal we will see a lot of beautiful artworks coming out of the Aboriginal Art community that were created during this time crisis. Speaking for myself, I am not sure when or even if business will return to normal. Having a business focused on Tourism, I don’t think any of us know how this is going to pan out. I will stay positive, and keep selling on Facebook for the time being. Here in the N.T we have to go through and online covid safe checklist before we can reopen. But with no tourists about I am not in a hurry. I am focusing on getting my shed built and applying for Gov grants. I can’t rely on locals to stay afloat. I don’t fear, I adapt. Fear has never been a part of who I am.