Ron Bradfield (Bardi)


In plain sight

In Plain Sight

Highly commended

2020
strips of army, navy and dashiki shirts hooked and knotted on army scrim mesh, hand stitching
160 x 65 x 40 cm

Artist statement

In plain sight is a textile work, depicting a ghillie suit made from the many shirts I have worn to hide from the view of others. While I was in the ADF and I was in my uniform, no-one saw the Aboriginal man inside, they only saw the sailor on the outside.

When I left the RAN in 1997, I discovered that not being able to hide made me a target once again – just as it had before I’d first put on an ADF uniform in the late 80’s. People more often saw the “Aborigine” and not the man.

I became a youth worker in 1998, helping kids at risk – often in gangs and on the street, away from their homes. In order to make myself appear less of a threat to the young people I worked with (and their parents), I reached back into my wardrobe and found my “pirate rig” shirts – bright splashes of colour found in the fluoro shirts that were knock-offs of the African Dashiki shirts.

Overnight, I’d found my new camouflage and these shirts have kept me safely hidden – in plain sight – ever since!