Slow Time: Nyaparu (William) Gardiner and the Strike Camps of the Pilbara

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Nyaparu (William) Gardiner’s drawings and paintings bring a lived perspective to histories of the 1946 pastoral workers’ strike in the Pilbara in Western Australia. This strike has been documented largely through the dramatic events of 1946 and through the subsequent struggles of strike leaders, including Clancy McKenna and Don McLeod, with the state government. Gardiner was born into the strike, and worked on its mining and pastoral settlements before leaving to take up station work elsewhere. His drawings and paintings document the “slow time” of strike life, of everyday labour and waiting, of his fellow workers on the strike camps, as well as his subsequent work with cattle and horses in the North West. Only beginning to make art in the last years of his life, Gardiner created his portraits of strike leaders, workers and landscapes from memory, and they contain a ghostly quality as they recall an era and many people who have died. His pictures testify to an impoverished autonomy for Aboriginal people and itinerant workers in the North West in the 1950s and 1960s. They offer a history from below, to supplement the political histories of the strike and its aftermath in this region of Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-96
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020


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