Claude Carter b. 1971
Claude Carter spent the first four years of his life on Lissadell station in the Gija Country of his father's family, before moving to Halls Creek. When he was thirteen his father died, prompting his mother to move to Broome. Claude chose instead to live with relatives at Wangkatjungka community, closer to Gooniyandi country where he also has strong traditional connections. His working life started shortly after, mustering and fencing on Kurpartiya (Bohemia Downs station). He has remained in his area ever since. Eleven years ago he was granted an excision of Bohemia Downs, at a place known as Bawoorooga, where he has established a home for his extended family.
Claude is deeply committed to the maintenance of his culture, and whilst still relatively young, is regarded as a leader in his community. An initiated man, he has placed great importance on acquiring traditional knowledge from his older relatives. Claude's interest in art developed as a result of watching his wife paint, when he formed strong mental images of how he could represent his own country on canvas. He started painting in 2005 with Mangkaja Art Centre at Fitzroy Crossing. His two principal themes are Goonboorroo, a waterhole of deep cultural significance for Gooniyandi people and Claude's family in particular, and Minmingalla, his grandmother's birthplace.
In 2009 he began painting only using natural earth ochres. His work is strongly conceptual, and intimately concerned with a semiotics of place. The painterly concern and the way he applies ochre to canvas reveals the care and respect he holds for his subject. The graphic quality of his fluid and geometric lines, and unusual pigment blends contribute to Claude Carter's truly unique style.
Claude often talks about Aboriginal concepts in kartiya [European] terms and refers to his culture and painting in a way that we can make sense and feel. Painting helps Claude to think about his country and the places he paints. He feels the land and culture through his stomach and heart.
Claude resides in a small community called Bawoorrooga approximately 100kms Wes of Fitzroy Crossing. He set up his community in 2000 without assistance from Government agencies and Land Councils. Initially, Claude sought approval from his elders and then continued with the support of his family. In the early years, the community worked hard carting water and many people thought they would never make it on their own. Since those days, they have gained assistance which has enabled community development including: installation of solar power, a bore, tank water, individual camps and the acquisition of a large raised donga with a verandah and roof. Claude continues to work hard for the development of his community. Claude and Andrea have four children of their own and are raising another three children.
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