Teena McCarthy

Cementa Artwork at Convent Garden St Laurence Church

When are the Bush Marys coming?

Materials | Installation and performance

Installation at St Laurence Church: photography, cloth, silk satin, string, flowers ‘When are the Bush Marys coming?’ was a phrase coined by the colonisers and outback stationers of western New South Wales. The station men, while waiting for the Aboriginal women, domestic servants to arrive, used this expression. In my photographic ‘self portraits’, installation and performance, I will honour the Holy Mother Mary, the Bush Mary and the divine fertility creation spirit, Mother Earth. The Bush Marys would cook, clean and mind the children, while hidden in the landscape of outback Australia. By way of my Italian/Barkindji heritage, I have re-created my own ‘Holy Trinity’.

Performance at the Convent Garden: including kangaroo skin, coolamon (a traditional Aboriginal carving from a tree trunk used for carrying babies, hunting tools, bush foods etc.), antique doll, lace blanket It is my intention, in this live performance, to no longer obfuscate the truth of the Bush Mary servant. She is the non-virgin, used for the carnal She has no voice She is her body She comes out of the bush Out of the dark Into the light She returns back to the bush Into the darkness She is the ‘Holy Ghost’. This work is in loving memory of my Barkindji ‘nanna’ Kath Mary McCarthy, also in honour of my mother Elina Erina McCarthy. Performance: 11am and 3pm every day

1. Teena McCarthy, When are the Bush Marys coming 2017. photo Ian Hobbs
1. Teena McCarthy, When are the Bush Marys coming 2017. photo Ian Hobbs
Teena McCarthy's bio:

Graduating in 2014 from University of NSW Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction, McCarthy has exhibited extensively for the past seven years. For Artlands Dubbo16, she was the featured artist in Old Lands – New Marks, curated by Djon Mundine OAM for Western Plains Cultural Centre. McCarthy was selected finalist in The NSW Parliament Aboriginal Art Prize 2014 and 2015. Her commissions include the cover of UNSW Law Faculty’s Reconciliation Action Plan (2015). In 2011, McCarthy curated iNTervention Intervention an exhibition about The Northern Territory Emergency Response Act. After recently showing in a group show Summer Sojourns 17 at Art Atrium, Bondi, her work is now available from this gallery.

I use the self-portrait as a ‘Bush Mary’ to honour my Italian mother, my Barkindji Aboriginal grandmother, and the divine fertility spirit Mother Earth, herein, called the ‘Holy Trinity’. The work references the late 19th century Victorian photographic trope of the ‘Hidden mothers’; and hence, used as a metaphor for the Aboriginal women who worked as domestic servants on outback stations in and across Australia. In Northern NSW, these women were known as the ‘Bush Mary’s’. While hidden in the outback landscape, the ‘Bush Mary’s’ would cook, clean and mind the children of the colonists. My work intends to make the once hidden, visible again.

2. Teena McCarthy, When are the Bush Mary's Coming, 2017. photo Alex Wisser
2. Teena McCarthy, When are the Bush Mary's Coming, 2017. photo Alex Wisser