Thursday, 3 March 2011

It's all about what's not said

Did you happen to see the piece on Palm Island artist Billy Doolan on the 7:30 report?  If not, it is well worth a look and Billy is certainly deserving of the national attention and recognition given the quality of his work and growing international reputation . (Transcript and video here).

Watching it reminded me of an unfinished post which I'd started in response to a Townsville Bulletin article on Billy back on 17 Feb. While that article also gave Billy local attention and recognition, at the time it annoyed me that the Bully tagged Billy as a "Townsville Artist" where of course he is a Palm Island man and that the article was run well back into the paper and not (for example) headlined in the weekly Arts Section. 

There was also something very familiar about the paper's pic of Billy which I couldn't put my finger on - until I found this piece by Chris Johnson in The Age.  As soon as I read there that Billy had been a resident of Happy Valley (for non-locals, Townsville's equivalent to a "fringe camp" or "town camp") the penny dropped.

I had met Billy at Happy Valley a number of years ago.  I now clearly remembered him as a strong and proud man, a leader - far from the image of Happy Valley itinerants and drunks that The Bulletin (among many others) are so fond of betraying.

And of course, while effectively regurgitating The Age article published 47 days beforehand, the Bully managed to exclude (airbrush) any reference to Billy's association with the Valley.  After all, we wouldn't want people to get the wrong idea about that mob would we?

Their attempt to appropriate Billy as a "Townsville Artist" (that is, one of our own) became all the more annoying when I read that Billy has been living in Melbourne for half of each of the last eight years (he's clearly a smart businessman too).

Oh - and I also discovered that Billy is in fact a "major Queensland artist" - certainly worthy of more than a throw-away piece in the local rag of the town that likes to claim him as their own.

While not really surprised by The Bully's approach, I have been particularly annoyed by what appears to me to be the complete ignoring of Billy Doolan and his international standing by the arts establishment in this town - and believe me there is one.  Search the Bulletin's site for "chamber music" and you'll get 67 results.  Search Billy's name and you get just one.

Say no more

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