How soon they forget
Roy Kennedy, like many Aboriginal artists, came to art-making late in life. As he says, "I am living proof that you're never too old to learn". Kennedy studied painting and later etching at the Eora Centre in inner city Sydney. Etching is his preferred medium and one that has revealed his strength of vision as an artist. Kennedy's work shares many similarities with other successful Eora graduates, such as HJ Wedge and Elaine Russell, whose works have also entered the AGNSW collection. Like these artists, Kennedy has forged a distinctive style that contributes to the growing strength of Indigenous art practice in urban centres.
Many of the senior artists working in the cities reflect on their younger lives growing up on missions in regional areas. This series of prints recall Kennedy's life on Police Paddock Mission, where his family were moved when the mission his mother was born on, Warangesda, was closed in 1925. Both missions were at Darlington Point, on the Murrumbidgee River, south west of Sydney. Like other artists of his era, Kennedy provides stories that accompany his images, based in his memories:
"Pepper Tree Avenue was on Warangesda Mission where my mother was born in 1910. This mission was closed down in 1925, so all my people were scattered everywhere. Eventually they were moved to the mission on the police paddock, from there on all the old people were classed as fringe dwellers".
Kennedy came to Sydney, and enrolled at the Eora Centre, after an itinerant life as a seasonal worker. 'Memories of the good days in my childhood' is from his second group of etchings and demonstrates his facility with the technique. As a body of work they are strikingly detailed in their depiction of his first hand observations and experiences of a chapter of Australia's history that is finding increasing expression in the work of Indigenous artists.
Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2001
hard-ground etching, black ink on white wove paper
49.3 x 59.3 cm platemark; 60.5 x 70.0 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r. beneath platemark, pencil "ROY D KENNEDY". Not dated.
Mollie Gowing Acquisition Fund for Contemporary Aboriginal Art 2001
Not on display
© Roy Kennedy
Where the work was made
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Contemporary Australian prints from the collection (2004), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 03 Apr 2004–06 Jun 2004
Country Culture Community (2008-09), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 12 Nov 2008–19 Apr 2009
Home: Aboriginal Art from NSW, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 Jun 2012–02 Dec 2012
Murruwaygu: following in the footsteps of our ancestors, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 28 Nov 2015–21 Feb 2016
Referenced in 1 publication
Anne Ryan, Contemporary Australian prints from the collection, Sydney, 2004. cat.no. 19