Kyra Mancktelow is a finalist in The Churchie Emerging Art Prize 2021.
No Perception investigates the military jackets worn by naval officers on the First Fleet. These jackets were given to First Nations peoples as they were seen as naked through Western eyes. Kyra argues that they were never naked – they proudly wore scarification and paint from ceremony – and that the adoption of European dress is likely to have aided in the destruction of Aboriginal culture through the undermining of self-esteem and erosion of health.
Our Old People were unclothed but never naked.
Our Old People dressed in their identity
In body scars and pigments marking ceremonies
The same way the white man wears a uniform.
Our Old People trimmed their hair with bones, feathers, fibres and shells.
The same way a King wears his crown.
Our Old People wore adornments around their necks and on their bodies.
The same way the wealth flash their jewels.
Our Old People carried their dillies against their skin.
The same way a Queen holds her purse.
Our Old People were named savages by the nakedness of their bodies by newcomers who colonise us, stigmatise us and fetishise us.