Madeline Anderson of Moora  |  100x70cm Giclée Fine Photographic Print by Martine Perret (2022)

Madeline Anderson

"Welcome to my home on the place that I call Little Yallie. My name is Madeline Anderson. I'm a Noongar Yued woman with strong connections to Yued boodja (country). However, I was born on Whadjuk boodja at the Subiaco King Edward Memorial Hospital.

Both my parents are Aboriginal. My Mum was born to both Yued people. I don't know too much about my father. I was raised by my grandparents. My grandmother was born at the Moore River Native Settlement, also known as Mogumber Mission. And my grandfather was born in Moora but was raised at the New Norcia Mission.

My grandmother who has now passed away, Benita Narrier, married my grandfather, Vincent Anderson. Both my grandparents did their schooling in New Norcia and were taught the Catholic way of life. According to my grandfather, they weren't allowed to practice or speak their language or practice any traditional way of living from their parents or grandparents.

I went into their care when I was two months old, and I left home when I graduated year 12. In a short time, I got up to no good. My grandfather didn't like it. Not one bit. He was afraid of me falling through the cracks. He said to me a few things that scared me, and I never turned back. I never wanted to dishonour my grandfather and it was a bit of a shock that put me in line.

They were the only people that I trusted to keep me safe and teach me life skills. If I had lost that, then what would I be? That's what it felt like. It felt like I had to listen to my grandparents or nothing.

The following year I got into university and put my head down. My dream was to become a lawyer as well as a veterinarian. I don't know how those two blended together, but that's what I wanted to do. Then later in life, I found that that's not what I wanted to do. That’s nothing I ever wanted to do or be. In fact, I wanted to be something that would connect me with nature. I always said to myself how lovely it would be to put a nice bouquet of native flowers together? I had the idea of being a florist. But that wasn't it either.

I’m married with two beautiful children. They are 14 and 15, a boy and a girl. I’ve been faced with a number of difficult and challenging times. Many of my family and friends lifted me when I needed it the most but nothing compared to the support from my husband. My soul was drowning and he held me up.

We lived in the city for 12 years and after losing my grandmother and having poor health, I had to go. I didn't want the life that I was living in the city. I was deteriorating. My mind wasn't strong. My body started to break down. It took for me to be in hospital for a long period of time and being very unwell to realise that. Once I felt a touch of energy there was a very strong desire to take my family back to the country, back home. I couldn't figure out what it was. I didn't know what it looked like and so I had to make a few decisions to search for it.

I'm glad I made that decision to be where I am today. It was a huge sacrifice. It was giving up everything that we had in the city to come up here.

Seeing my grandmother deal with racism directly and right before me in my teenage years, was the most difficult thing I'd ever seen. My grandmother had her own traumas, layers and layers, and she was a very quiet type. Her sister was the voice. They lived up on the hill. She was everything to me and I never grieved until I came home three years later. I miss her dearly.

I'm no Picasso, but I love painting and making a mess. I also love going for a walk, camping, storytelling and just casually enjoying being peacefully creative. I wear so many hats and love every single one of them. I feel very lucky that I've been able to find that.

I have lots of good bush around me and I get to live in an impact crater formed about 75 million years ago. How cool is that. So you see there is so much energy that pulled me back to boodja (country). I feel like I'm tucked in nicely.

No matter what happens in life, the worst thing you could do to yourself is to forget how to breathe. Breathing properly is so important. It can be stressful and quite often we forget about our mind and body. Take a moment or two as often as you can. Simply pause and breathe is how I survived. I’m 36 and I know why I’m here but that story is for another cuppa."


Click below to view the full portrait and read each story from the Act Belong Commit exhibition Women of the Hinterlands