Patrick Waterhouse was born in the UK in 1981. The Restricted Images series is a collaboration between Waterhouse and the Warlukurlangu Art Centre. The works were made in the communities of Yuendumu and Nyirripi which are remote desert aboriginal communities in Central Australia.
In 1899, the book The Native Tribes of Central Australia caused a sensation in Europe. Francis J. Gillen and W. Baldwin Spencer wrote about Aboriginal groups living near Alice Springs and illustrated their texts with 119 photographs. Whilst the images set a new standard for anthropological photography, the authors were oblivious to their local impact. The images infringed upon Aboriginal cultural beliefs by showing sacred sites and the dead, revealing the gap in knowledge between the authors, whose goal was showing ‘exotic natives in their natural state’, and the Aboriginals who were unaware of the medium’s invasive potential.
Attitudes have since changed, and institutions strive to ensure cultural sensitivity whilst photography within Aboriginal communities is limited and historical images often restricted. In response to these ideas, Patrick Waterhouse lived and made photographs over five years in the Warlpiri communities of Yuendumu and Nyirripi. After making prints back in England, he returned to Central Australia and invited locals to restrict his images using traditional dot painting, handing back the control of representation to those who have been denied it in the past.