From an interview in 2016.
Billie (T) Thomas describes herself as an Australian artist with no current permanent address.
Combining photography, sculpture and digital media with crafts traditionally associated with women’s domestic roles, her work subverts white nostalgia and questions many of the tightly-held axioms of the Australian mythos. Like many collage artists, her works are darkly comedic and socially incisive. Billie T’s work reflects on a childhood of nomadic poverty in an age of fetishistic property acquisition, online self-promotion and identity politics.
By the age of thirteen Billie T had lived in every state in Australia except WA. The only child of a single mother, she “bounced from school to school like a downball on broken asphalt” and by the age of fifteen had lived in more places than she can count: squats, caravans, share houses and, memorably, an old Holden station wagon for four months while her mother looked for seasonal work fruit picking up and down the Murray. “My mother was a fierce, independent woman with a real hatred of government handouts. She didn’t want to feel owned by the government, and I get that. I think she’s where I get a lot of my attitudes from.”
Inspired initially by Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji in which Mt Fuji often provides a backdrop to scenes of contemporary Japanese life, 36 Ulurus is an artist’s book that uses acquired images to parody the road trip photo books of the 70s and 80s. “In all the travels I did, I’ve never seen Uluru and yet, like most Aussies, its image sits there in my heart and sort of anchors me to the whole country”. An imagined road trip in a stationary car, it is part memoir of her time living in, and repairing, the Holden, and part commentary on the bland and transitory nature of white Australian settlement.
Finally, I asked the artist why there are only 18 images when the title claims 36.
She flashes a grin. “I lied.”
David Chalmer, Port Augusta, 2016