Law Courts, Alice Springs


1999,  116 x 146 cms  NFS


One of the places Gregory Johnson’s crew camped after falling out from Whitegate was Mt Swan, four kilometres along Larapinta Drive. Dominic had taken another wife, Georgina, and was in a nearby tent to Gregory’s. Georgina walked slowly to where I stood chatting with Gregory about an impending funeral.


 ‘Rod.’ She said shyly, as she hardly knew me. ‘Come see Dominic. Dominic got bad eye, Rod.’


What an understatement!  It was so ballooned his eyelashes were concealed beneath the bruised, purplish skin. Pus seeped from the dark scab below his brow. The infection gave him a headache. Georgina guided him to my car and I drove to see a doctor acquaintance that lived around the corner from us. He rang the Casualty ward at hospital, and when we drove there Dominic was immediately ushered past the crowded waiting room to have his eye swabbed and stitched. The powers of penicillin were soon in motion. According to the night nurse who held his file, Dominic had been in Casualty the previous Thursday. He told me the police had belted him during a scuffle on the footpath in front of the police station. Dominic insisted to the police that they were detaining the wrong suspect. He fought the police again inside the lockup.


'They been get too cheeky for me,’ he said.


They been get that little shock button. Been put it on my skin.’


They didn’t know he had his knife stuck down his boot.


I tellem I be stick them if they keep be pushy for me.’


He kept his word. They cuffed his hands behind him and kicked him all over. Did he get the policemen’s badge number? No. Would he seek legal advice? No. Both he and Georgina knew well the weakness of his position before whitefella law.


Law Courts, Alice Springs reverses the power roles, outside the courthouse. Craig san Roque suggested one of Rumi's quatrains which led me to the poses from Piero Della Francesca’s, Resurrection of Christ, 1465. My composition retains the low viewpoint. The drunken police substitute for the sleeping Roman soldiers. Lawrence Hayes, Daniel and Paul emerge from court and encounter this ludicrous inversion of roles. The Palmer girls sit on the steps next to the police, presumably able to witness their stupefaction but opting to assume poses varying from the stereotypical, hearing no evil, seeing no evil, and speaking no evil.