About Football Game!


(from the Charlie’s Country suite of projects)

‘Football game! Football game!’

There were rumours of a football game. Someone plugged an amp into the footy ground’s speaker system with an almighty whining feedback crackle. Yolngu language punched through the searing mid-afternoon heat of Ramingining, a township of the Arafura Swamp in Arnhem Land. The tannoy boomed into life with the clarion call ‘Football game! Football game!’ loud enough to scatter the brolgas 500km away in Darwin.

Then, suddenly, nothing happened.

Nothing happened for what seemed like a very long time. The call was repeated, with threats, in language, English and an attention-getting screeching aimed at irritating potential players into action. Two young men walked out from the scrub towards the commentary box. As the shrieking rose they were joined by four more ambling their way through the red dust and discarded playing cards from the card games of the night before, past the camp dogs panting in the shade. ‘Come and get your jerseys, only a few left’. We had ourselves a football game.

Compulsions good and bad variously enliven and plague remote communities. Football is a celebration of the raw and occasionally barefoot energy of the young men wrestling with the fusing of traditional and popular culture. ‘Card playing’ is a polite term for gambling in a culture with a wholly alternative view of the notion of money. Playing cards bedecked with stylised ‘Balanda’ royalty litter the streets, ground into the dirt that eventually colours everything.

On this Saturday afternoon football reigns. Beautiful, harsh, compelling and a little gritty.


1. King of Clubs
2. Ace of Clubs
3. Joker
4. Ace of Hearts
5. Nine of Diamonds

All works are triptychs (frameless multipanel pigment prints fused to acrylic glass with concealed floating subframe).
Panel measurements: 80cm (h) x 120cm (w); 80cm (h) x 120cm (w); 80cm (h) x 55cm (w). Full width of multipanel work: 2.95 metres longest edge.