I call Ben ʼbrother from another motherʼ, heʼs a kindred spirit, for sure. He and I both believe in the power of art, that art can change peopleʼs lives, that it can even change the world. For us, art is our weapon.
Being an artist based in a remote community, you can feel pretty isolated. But Iʼve always been hungry for ideas and stories and wanted to know what other artists were doing, and why they were doing it. I knew and admired Benʼs work before weʼd ever met – heʼs a serious painter, heʼs not mucking around, and he won the Archibald! When Ben and I first connected it helped me to realise that my painting was opening up doors for me, and connecting me with a bigger world out there. Weʼre friends who came together through art, through sharing, teaching and learning and story-telling. Ben has really supported me and encouraged me to plan and work on projects that are keeping me and other young artists from the APY Lands connected to that big world out there.
When I think about my relationship with Ben I think about my great-grandfather Albert Namatjira and the important friendship that he had with a man named Rex Batterbee. An Arrernte man and a non-Indigenous bloke who were brought together by art. Albert and Rex shared their ideas about life, about country and about painting. Art crosses boundaries, it brings people together. Art has brought Ben out to the desert, and itʼs taken me to the city. Like I said, art can change peopleʼs lives and we hope it can change the world too.