about | writing | contact
naughty natives security threat liminal being a medium  
Intervention See No Evil upon the place of blood Trans Me  
Hinenuitepo Blood Landing jooroo  
Maccassan Story Yugambeh MoleMole ifloving you is wrong... Moko  












Karla Dickens

Blood & Bones 2008

Papier Mache and Mixed Media

116cm x 70cm

Artist Statement


Full Blood
Mixed Blood
Black Blood

Speaks of assimilation and the countless terms used to label
‘black’ of how ‘not black’ an Aboriginal person was or is.
It speaks of the different shades and horror stories of peoples
Proud to have Black Blood and also plays with the notion that

We all have red blood.


Karla Dickens, Wiradjuri painter, was born in Sydney in 1967. Karla began creating art at high school in Life Drawing classes where the female form was her main subject matter. She began her formal training as an artist when she enrolled at the National Art School in Darlinghurst, Sydney in 1991 where she obtained a Fine Arts Diploma in 1993 and in 2000 she obtained a Bachelor in Fine Arts also from the National Art School.

After moving to Wollombi in the Hunter Valley Karla says her work became “more detailed with a stronger Indigenous feel.” She also says that her work at this time was finding “more acceptance with my sexuality”.  Following the death of a close friend in 1997 crosses began appearing as motifs within her paintings and in 2000 Karla began employing text into her work. Her work in 2003 changed dramatically when Karla began beading painted canvasses, a strong contrast of fresh mark making and fine textured detail. Her main influences are politics, love, sex and the environment.

Karla has shown in many solo and group exhibitions including The Art of Place at Old Parliament House, Canberra in 1998, Co-Existence, Hogarth Galleries, Sydney in 1998, Love Magic, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney for Perspecta 1999, Aboriginal Ways of Knowing at the Macy Gallery, Columbia University, USA in 2001, Hung, Drawn and Quartered at the Tin Sheds Gallery, University of Sydney in 2003, Nice Coloured Dolls, 24HR Art, Darwin, Northern Territory in 2004, Our Spirit Our Country, Bundjalung Art Award and Chrysalis both at Lismore Regional Art Gallery in 2006. This year winning the Past, Present, Future, Aboriginal Art Award at Grafton Regional Gallery.

In his article, Where Eagles Hover (Artlink, Volume 18, No 1) writer Maurice O’Riordan writes of Karla’s work that was shown in the exhibition, Jowalbinna (home of the ancient ones), “Dickens' paintings show that the spirituality powering Aboriginal art is well and truly alive. In her series' title painting, Jowalbinna, a host of 'mother earth' deities dominates the shelters and the full moon nightscape of Dickens' passage to them. A wedge-tailed eagle hovers above a footprint, coming to signify the hovering circle of eagles over the Guugu-yalanji people's historic handover ceremony at the nearby Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival that year” and “for brevity's sake, it is not possible to detail all of the works in Jowalbinna. Each one celebrates a dream-like revelation through country whose spiritual and natural heritage can only inspire profound awe and respect. There's a kind of magic in the way that Dickens connects with this country, though she was, like a tourist, experiencing it for the first time.”

Karla has had residencies in Brewarrina in 1995 where she worked with ten local children on a 16-metre mural. In 1997 she was the artist in residence at UTS, Sydney and spent three months in Cape York, Queensland. In 1998 she had a two-month residency in Guardella, Italy. In 2006 she was the recipient of the Bundjalung Art Award for her work in the Our Spirit, Our Country exhibition.