Julie Dowling Act-Belong-Commit Artist on the Move


Yagu Gurlbarl (Big Secret), Julie Dowling. Installation view in Beach Street Gallery, Hello Fremantle Open Day, 2018. Image Courtesy of ART ON THE MOVE.

Creative endeavour: “Brinkmanship. I like painting fully every day but I also like to express myself only days before a deadline so I can capture immediate nuance.”

“Making art keeps me active in the studio and in public and that is vital as I have many health conditions that need me to move for my wellbeing.” 

Artist Julie Dowling

About the Artist
Julie Dowling is a proud Badimaya First Nation woman and her breath-taking work explores the systemic injustices against First Nations peoples. Julie completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Curtin, numerous diplomas, in addition to completing a honorary doctorate in Literature (Honoris Causa) at Murdoch University. Julie Dowling has exhibited extensively both abroad and in Australia, winning numerous awards and grants. Julie’s exhibition Yagu Gurlbarl (Big Secret) is a touring exhibition with ART ON THE MOVE and highlights the unjust history First Nations peoples have endured, as well as showcases the strength and resilience the first nations peoples hold in overcoming these atrocities. Read below to discover more about Julie’s strong connection to art.

How did you get started in your career?
I began painting very young at about 3 or 4 years old my mother would travel with us to see our grandmother and along the journey on public transport she’d teach us to engage with people as a part of her cultural practice as a Badimaya woman who was actively seeking out lost relations after the stolen generation.

Does your creative practice make you feel connected to a community, and if so, how?
Many of my family and community are still missing from their cultural connections and community. When they need to be represented in whites only spaces or in places of prejudice I’m happy to represent my family when I’m asked to and fight for their rights alongside them.

How does your creative practice impact your mental and physical health and wellbeing?
Mentally I’ve suffered with a kind of depression that many creative artists have which is based in isolation and a need to be empathic to everyone. Often I get hurt by the amount of racism there is either aimed directly at me or my community in many various ways.

Do you have anything you’d like to share with community members considering participating in arts activities?
I’d like to welcome any community members to look at my art as the starting point for a conversation about labour and equality. My main aim is to effect knowledge of different life experiences in order to find solutions and hope for everyone that separate is equal and that First Nation people deserve their own self-determination and autonomy as we have our own systems of government and cultural customs to maintain.

This Act-Belong-Commit Engagement Program presented by ART ON THE MOVE is sponsored by Healthway promoting the Act-Belong-Commit health message.