Dale Harding’s wall painting takes its inspiration from the paintings in and around Carnarvon Gorge in central Queensland, home to his Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal people.
In Wall Composition in Reckitt’s Blue, Harding has introduced an ultramarine blue pigment in place of traditional rock ochres. This blue is made from a powdered laundry detergent called Reckitt’s Blue, which was popular across the colonial frontier in the late nineteenth century. For Harding, the laundry powder symbolises the domestic labour that generations of his female ancestors were forced into through government policy. In the top right-hand corner of the work, three spectral outlines represent generations of women from Harding’s matrilineal line.
In place of the more common stencils of hands or artefacts, Harding has used a shovel handle as a stencil form. In the same way that everyday objects, such as boomerangs and spears, were used in traditional painting, Harding has used an object at hand – a tool from the floor of his studio. Gouges in the wall simulate natural landforms, ridges and caves, but also refer to the river systems connecting Aboriginal people throughout central and south-east Queensland.