Claire: "Henrietta Marrie is an Aboriginal elder, community leader and activist from the Gimuy Walubara Yindinji tribe of Cairns. She’s passionate about the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage, ancient knowledge systems, and biodiversity and has pushed through barriers and stereotypes to be a voice for her people on a world stage, encouraging young Indigenous people to step up through education and action.
With warmth and enthusiasm, Henrietta welcomed the idea of a portrait of her as a way to honor her contributions but also invite a discussion around the impacts of the Great Barrier Reef’s dire state on the relationship between earth, spirit, and identity so intrinsic to Indigenous culture. When I asked Henrietta what it would mean to lose the reef she replied without hesitation, ‘everything is connected - If we lose our reef, we lose ourselves’.
My mural seeks to illustrate this connectedness by concealing the vibrant colors, textures, and patterns of the reef within Henrietta’s silhouette. Parts are washed away or sink back into the wall to visually represent the cumulative effect of loss - if one is washed away, so too is the other".
Sea Walls Australia is a groundbreaking public art program that brings the message of ocean conservation and environmental stewardship into streets around the country.
Claire Foxton is a National Artist from Wollongong, New South Wales that was involved in the 2018 Sea Walls festival in Cairns.