Know Thy Neighbour #3

Table of Contents

Over the span of 2022 I was fortunate enough to spend time working within the boundaries of East Fremantle. Initially this en­gage­ment was with school aged children through Richmond Primary — with guidance from long serv­ing Art teacher Jody Scott. It’s always such a de­light working with young people, listening to their perspectives on the world around them.

Yabini (the artist) surrounded by three primary school children in a class room. Yabini is holding a clay object and a sharp scupting tool between her fingers as the children look on.
Yabini Kickett at Richmond Primary, 2022. Image courtesy Simon Hall.

It was clear in this instance that all students were proud of their prox­imity to the river, and all it pro­vides. There was a joy to be shared in their acknowledg­ment of cultural significance, some­thing I’m happy to say younger ones are increas­ingly sensitive to. Through a couple of workshops we got messy with soft pastel, water and clay — investi­gating the geology of place and picturing what their suburb looked like prior to colonisation.

The final exhibited textile work features clay charms made by the students, focusing on water and the river system they call home. The silk was solar dyed as my last goodbye to my childhood home. Done in the front garden using plants my dad had grown to re-vegetate the area over 15+ years.

  • A close up of the textile work created by Yabini and the students at Richmond Primary. The fabric is dyed light blue with patterns of various leaf shapes appearing in silhouetted form. Sewn on to the fabric are small clay objects and beaded string charms.
    Detail — final textile work.
  • Full view of the textile work hanging at UWA Cullity Gallery. The cloth is dyed light blue–the inner section framed by a faded blue section. The separation between the two sections is emphasized by dark blue darning. Various leaf shapes can be seen in silhouetted form. Small clay and beaded string charms are sewn on to the fabric. The work is attached to a hanging wood dowel with three black loops sown to the top.
    Final textile work at exhibition at UWA Cullity Gallery. Images by Emma Daisy.

After working with the school I became curious about the old Woodside Maternity Hospital I’d heard so much about on Dalgety St. It felt like a natural progression, spending time in our old birth­ing places by the river, with kids at Richmond to now research­ing motherhood and birth around that institution.

We put a call-out through social media for any local people with related stories to come forward — From there we were lucky to yarn with four. One young mum on her accidental home birth, long-time residents and mother daughter duo, plus a friend of a friend who grew up on King Street. Each interview held such fond memories of the town — Some that hadn’t been spoken about aloud in years. I’m still very appreciative of those that wel­comed us into their homes to share their stories.

These interviews were compiled and played at an intimate event down by the John Tonkin Res­erve foreshore one evening during early December. Intro­duced by Aunty Geri Hayden, we sat and lis­tened to the mentioned interviews, but also to her reminisce about her mum Nana Janet Hayden, a respected Noongar Elder and important woman in our shared history.

A group of three people are seated on chairs in a grassy area. The person in the middle is holding a microphone, with the person on the left looking at them and artist Yabini Kickett on the right looking into the distance while listening to them. There is a view of the river behind the group, and they are addressing an audience seated on the ground.
Yabini Kickett, ‘A Child Was Born Here’, 2022. Image courtesy Simon Hall.
Listen to ‘A Child Was Born Here’ (30:03), Courtesy Yabini Kickett with Envelope Audio. Download audio (MP3 format, 32.7 MB) Read transcript

The final display at the UWA Cullity Gallery com­bines all mo­ments of this journey. The photograph taken by my dad Richard, out on an­ces­tral country — Granite rock holds a spe­cial place in my heart so felt important to include. The textile collaborative work between myself and the students, and the lighting by Cara Teusner-Gartland who also along­side Nansen Robb created the same effect at the John Tonkin event.

A wide view of a well-lit room, with a textile work hanging from the ceiling on the left and a wall with a landscape photograph on the right. In the middle of the room is a white box on the ground with a reflective surface.
Exhibit at UWA Cullity Gallery. Images by Emma Daisy.

Again, a big thank you to everyone who showed me kindness during my time in East Fremantle. I have a newfound under­standing and appreciation of the place and what it means to local people. I hope our paths cross again in the future.

Yabini Kickett

Yabini Kickett

Yabini Kickett (Esther McDowell) is a descendant of the Kickett and Hayden families of the Bibulmun/Noongar Nation. Having grown up with an artist and poet mother, as well as a photographer and land conser­vation­ist father, her practice is heavily rooted in language, endemic plants, fam­ily, totemic relations and found objects from country. In late 2017, Yabini participated in the National Indigenous Arts Leadership program at the National Gallery, this ex­perience helped foster lasting relationships and deeply encouraged her to pursue working within Visual Arts. Currently Yabini is experimenting with textiles, and found objects, with a focus on animal remains from hunting and roadkill. The resulting works are often about place and the solastalgia associated with the destruction of country.