The Story Behind

Patrick Waterhouse

For the next couple of weeks, every Wednesday we will be uploading a story from an artist about an artwork he or she finds worth sharing.


This week we'll be kicking off our Wednesday story with Patrick Waterhouse! For the series Restricted Images, Patrick collaborated with the Warlukurlangu Art Centre in Central-Australia. Usually, capturing the Aboriginals in Australia is limited and historical images are often "restricted". However, Waterhouse was granted permission to capture the local inhabitants over the years and returned to the area after making the prints, to work together with local artists and members of the community, so they could restrict and amend his photographs through the process of painting. Following is the story in which Patrick elaborates on the image shown on the right shot during this period. 


"Yuendumu Mining Co is a shack which sells essential supplies in the community. It's run by a fascinating character who is, as far as I recall, a Dutch geologist who went to the central desert in the 1960s and never left. He became integrated into Aboriginal life and campaigned for Aboriginal people to get further rights relating to their sacred land.

Sometimes at the end of the day after working together, I would help people in the community with their shopping, particularly if they were elderly or had mobility issues. This photograph was taken in Yuendumu, the small desert community, outside the home of Sabrina, Julie and Dorothy just after we'd picked up supplies from Yuendumu Mining Co. All the titles in the series come from fragments of conversations which I would keep track of while we worked.

This work powerfully shows each person's identity - their Jukurrpa, the totemic stories and symbols belonging to that person, which relates to their land and is the story they have inherited and is passed on through kinship. In this image, Julie has painted over her image, Dorothy has done the same, and Sabrina has painted her story within her and within her son, who is the boy sitting in the chair, whom she has a kinship tie to, and therefore is the inheritor of her story. "This is one of the only works which shows stories being passed down through generations, within a single image. For this reason, it's one of my favourite works.”


If you want to see more of Patrick's work, visit his page by clicking on this link:

March 3, 2021
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