In a strange way, Michael Chamberlain is responsible for starting my life as an artist. It’s even stranger since we never met, I never sat in his classes or heard his voice fill a room.
By chance, I saw Azaria’s baby bracelet in a display cabinet at the National Library of Australia and that simple object brought home the obscene tragedy of parents being charged for murder when a wild animal had taken their child.
The tragedy was amplified not only by the media circus at the time – but by its tasteless and bizarre caricaturisation in popular culture from The Simpsons to Seinfeld for years afterwards.
For me, I wanted to tell the story in pictures, simple pictures to show to the world the heartbreak that was so misunderstood.
The series, A Dingo Ate My Baby, was my first solo show as an artist in a crappy, hot loft at the Tap Gallery. It’s where I sold my first piece of work – and created the first piece that was shortlisted for an award.
I never knew Michael, but I shared his desire for justice. For an apology to be made from the Northern Territory government and a plaque to remember the baby who died so tragically.
It’s only by telling these stories, by remembering, that we can hope that no other family will experience what the Chamberlains did.
Rest in peace, Michael. We’re indebted to your strength, stamina and pursuit of what was right.