(Australia 1964– )
182.8 x 275.0cm frame
Brenda L Croft's images have a particular significance for the AGNSW having been specially created for the collaborative installation with Adrian Piper, 'Conference Call', featured in the 1992 Biennale of Sydney 'The Boundary Rider'. The images relate strongly to the Sydney indigenous community and reflect the artist's strong association with this community on a personal and professional level. All of the subjects are situated in proximity to landmarks well known to the Redfern Aboriginal community, such as the TNT Towers (widely believed to be used for surveillance of Eveleigh Street and environs), Eveleigh Street itself and Albert Park. Each of the subjects was chosen for their ability to represent a particular aspect of inner city indigenous experience in a positive light - a direct strategy to challenge the negative associations so commonly perpetrated in this regard.
Local lads Shane Phillips and Noel Collett wear the jerseys of the local rugby league team the Redfern All Blacks - a source of great community pride. Sue Ingram standing defiantly in front of the TNT Towers presents the youthful edge of radical politics, and displays the logo of the controversial Aboriginal Provisional Government. Sue, again, wears a T-Shirt advertising the annual Aboriginal Knockout Competition that brings together regional rugby league teams to different towns around New South Wales. So the images are loaded with clues that refer to the dynamic community and cultural life that Aboriginal people of the inner city enjoy and demonstrate their links to other communities outside metropolitan Sydney.
Mervyn Bishop, himself a renowned artist, and Joseph Croft, Brenda's late father, are/were both active in the Sydney indigenous arts community, but also convey a sense of the inspiration and role of elders within the community. Mathew Cook, now passed away, and Bonny Briggs are pictured outside their office in their capacity at the time as AIDS workers with the Redfern community. Both committed health workers, they also demonstrate the positive action taken by the Redfern people in initiating specialised medical, legal and housing services etc.
Overall the images are - in a convoluted way - autobiographical, presenting the artist's family and friends and thereby providing the context for understanding the artist's own position as a member of one of the many culturally and socially strong Aboriginal communities that have a prominent profile in our major cities and towns. As the artist writes in the Biennale catalogue; "By placing myself behind the camera I am taking control of my self image and images of ourselves. I cannot, do not, take sole responsibility but challenge and attempt to reverse the expected".
Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000
Hetti Perkins and Jonathan Jones (Editors), Half light: Portraits from black Australia 2008, 'Brenda L Croft', pg. 56-63, Sydney, 2008, 60 (colour illus.).