Fiona MacDonald is a visual and installation artist who has lived and worked in Sydney for many years. In her interview Fiona talks about her background and training, and the galleries with which she has exhibited. In the excerpt below Fiona details aspects of her work ‘Native Stranger’, a series of seven digital prints, which is held in the City of Sydney Civic Collection.
I found a really amazing image of Joseph Banks [botanist] as a caricature of him called the ‘Dandy Macaroni’, it’s in the National Library, where he’s very dandyish but his leg’s completely wrapped up in bandaging because he suffered from gout; and an Aboriginal man that was also an image from the Mitchell [Library], who had a spear and was very laconically handing a fish to someone. It was like “You can visit. You’re welcome to come here, but please don’t stay”. And there was an image of the woman in a little boat, with a baby on her arm, and a little fire, and a fishing line in the water. Also the little ‘Etruria’, the little ship in the background of [Josiah] Wedgewood’s Sydney Cove coin; and a picture of the Ella children [prominent Indigenous family] meeting the French Consul General in 1964 down at La Perouse; ‘Snake Man’ [local character] from La Perouse; and a xanthorrhoea [Australian plant] and some cockatoos – all referenced from existing archives and with very specific histories. And then a layer of text as well, which was the two languages and the Eora words for new things that they’d encountered when the settlers and the colonists came.