I've never spoken about this sort of thing publicly. I've never really spoken much about it privately either. It's really hard. Every time I even think about it I get a dry mouth, my tongue feels like a lead weight, my hands shake. I'm crying now wiring this.
I have a file full of photos from about 15ish years ago. My mum was/is a foster carer. She started fostering I think when I was 14 or 15. In QLD. At first it was going to be temporary. The department assigned her three kids that were going to come and live with us.
My mum has 100 acres (that the bank owns mostly) in a small town in South East QLD. We built a small lined shed on it that we lived in when I was 6, that we continued to upgrade and extend (without council approval) until now it could comfortably sleep 10 - 18 people.
We had 3 kids from the same family who were in crisis that were coming to live with us for a couple months. I remember the first time meeting them. They were so small and terrified. It was night time and they were in the back of a sedan. I remember the car light on their faces.
They didn't stay a couple of months. These three kids became our brothers and sisters. They lived with us for years. The department kept bringing more kids from the same family until my mum was the foster carer of 13 kids and the single parent of 4 kids.
These kids were/are all blackfullas. They stopped being foster kids very quickly. They started being family. We tried as much as possible to give them a positive relationship with their actual parents as well. I remember the visits.
Us older kids, particularly my older sister, Tully also became the foster kid's carers. Our mum couldn't do it alone. The department just kept bringing these kids from the same family. One came when he was 2 weeks old.

I had to stop writing to sob.
I can't control the tears. My body is convulsing as they are coming out.
When I was 19 I moved out to go to NAISDA after dropping out of the bachelor of arts I was doing by distance so I could still help around the property.

I would go back every break and work the property. Fix things. Try to do my part.
I have a photo from my 21st birthday where my Uncle has one of the young on his lap. They all came to my birthday.
When I was 22 I joined Bangarra as a dancer and started touring. My life became incredibly busy. My relationship with my brothers and sisters changed. I fell out with my younger brother Texas.
At the beginning of the next year the department took all of the kids away and accused my mum and my sister of neglecting them and I think some other stuff. I don't know, I've never read the documents. It wasn't true.
My mum had suffered a mental breakdown in part I believe because the department had given her 13 foster kids to look after and she cared for every single one of them. They were right to remove the kids from her care at that point.
They were not right to accuse of any of what they accused her of. She fought it every step she could. I saw her age 10 years in the space of 3.
As a side note I spoke to my boss at Bangarra about what was going on and was told it's life, it happens. I remember the conversation.

I wasn't given any time off to go help my family. I wasn't really heard or offered support. It definitely affected me.
I think this was the point I started drinking more and doing more drugs and being less in control. I left Bangarra 12 months later. I don't blame my boss for any of it. He had his own stuff going on. This has little to do with why I left.
My mum never stopped caring about those kids. My sister never stopped caring, me and my brother never stopped caring. I have these photos in a file that's basically sealed.
These are photos I used to have on my wall and in frames and now I can't bear to look at them because the memories hurt so much.
I don't talk to my mother about this very much. She still hurts too. She never stopped fighting. The department recanted on their accusations. They withdrew them. There were no repercussions on the person that made them.
Two of the kids have come back to live with Mum. I find it really difficult to go back there. I've barely returned to Stanthorpe since this all happened. The kids that live with mum now are teenagers. They both have substance abuse problems.
Mum has trouble getting them to go to school. I advised her not to get involved with this again for her own mental health. She chose to get involved.
I want to destroy these pictures. I hate what these memories do to me. I hate how the person my Mum was, was destroyed because she cared too much and the system took advantage of that.
I hate that Mum couldn't say no, didn't know her limits. I also hate that my sister was expected to become a carer. I truly believe my sister had her potential for career greatness quashed because of this. I know she doesn't regret.
We love/loved these kids like our blood.
I hate that I can't really speak to them anymore. I hate that I wrote this. I've tried to talk to therapists about this. It doesn't get very far. They don't understand.
I hate that this is the system that does this to us. That colonisation created, that's designed this way.

I hate myself for wanting to go back in time and wishing my mum had never taken the first three and then I hate myself for wanting my mum back the way she was.
I hate that I keep this locked away in a vault because I'm not strong enough to deal with it and I forget that it happened sometimes. Every time I go through my stuff (like when I'm packing my stuff to move) I find these pictures and I completely breakdown.
I don’t really have proper memories of the few years around this. I was on tour and I should have all if these memories of different towns and places. I barely remember. I don’t know if that’s because of tour or the stress.

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More from @TravisHDeVries

21 Jul
Some of my artworks are available as prints for purchase. All Museum Archival quality.

Sales go into helping me pay myself to make more art and do the other cool things I do.

travisdevries.com/product/cook-f…
Tear it Down has been a big work for me. It’s thé work people know me for and contact me about. I have other great pieces too. Like Justus Warrior.

travisdevries.com/product/justus…
Or Burden to Bear (this one is still at 1st edition printing)

travisdevries.com/product/burden…
Read 4 tweets
20 Jul
Earlier this year in a conversation with the CEO of my old employer I was told that Aboriginal people need to ask for power from the white people who control it.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that.
In its immediacy it felt unexplainable wrong, and it still does. I felt like the quiet part of the white supremacist system we live in was said out aloud. Just exposed in front of me by someone who benefits from it.
The more I thought about it, it didn’t stop being wrong but it also started to show me a way forward. White people now are in control because their parents were in control and the parents of their parents were in control.
Read 7 tweets
16 Feb
I’m not usually one for the big public announcements. I’ve resigned from the Australian Museum. There’s a number of reasons I resigned but I won’t be going into them here right at this moment.
The main reason I’m leaving is that I want to focus on making work for @AwesomeBlackOrg and making AwesomeBlack the best place it can be to support other First Nations content creators. I’m so excited about this.
My other focus will be my artwork and finishing my first novel. I’ll probably be on here spruiking Awesome Black & my work (more than I already do).
Read 4 tweets
16 Feb
Launching pre order for the 1st edition print of my recent work Burden to Bear.

If you remember a few weeks ago when I was the @IndigenousX host I wrote a decent sized thread about the work that I'll re-hash here...
I originally made this piece as a commission for a new project that is coming soon. It's not my project so I can't really talk about it. This piece didn't end up fitting into the project for the client so I was able to release it separately,
The image is on one level an Aboriginal jesusesque character pulling down a colonial statue. The imagery I drew inspiration from for the character was christian imagery of Jesus carrying the cross through the streets (a burden).
Read 19 tweets
15 Feb
When Aboriginal women write to me about my artwork with negative critique why do they always (always) begin their critique with as an Aboriginal woman?
When Aboriginal men write to me about artwork with negative critique why do they always (always) begin their critique with ‘the dumb dawg ain’t even black’?
There’s a point to me mentioning this. Firstly both of these are attempts to make ‘less’ of my position in the community and try to wax some power play bs against me.
Read 5 tweets

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