BHP (Be Humble Please)

Teena McCarthy – featured artist

Image a woman, eyes closed, under water with hair flowing out with the current.

‘Whatevahappentu Wiimpatji Noongu (Barkindji Woman)’ by Teena McCarthy.
A descendant of the Stolen Generations, this piece is a self-portrait of the artist lying on her ancestral riverbed. McCarthy says: ‘When I go home to my grandmother’s country of Broken Hill, NSW, I lay in the River Darling. I imagine the water running over me – for we, the Barkindji, we are the river, and the water is our blood’.


BHP (Be Humble Please)

(painting & poetry for Nanna)

black by day
white by night
this broken ol’ town
all battered and burned
high gutters in case of a storm
silver &  gold
yes! you were born
you gave yourself so mercilessly
bromide, chromate and lead
you were bled
dry like the riverbed
oh, my darling
river of young and old
where if you’re lucky
you may find gold
women in long dresses
formaldehyde and babies’ clothes
faces of the strong men
who came in droves
the settlers, all holed up in a
house on a hill
with a chapel and an ol’ donkey
just standing
in the mud
near the well
when just over the hill
10 kms out of town
there you were
your plains as red
as dry
as the river bled


Listen to Teena reading ‘BHP (Be Humble Please)’ (1:06).


Teena McCarthy portrait

Teena McCarthy

Teena McCarthy is a visual artist and poet who works predominantly in painting, photography and performance art. She graduated in 2014 from University of New South Wales Art & Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction.

McCarthy is an Italian/Barkindji woman who is a descendant of The Stolen Generations. Her work documents her family’s displacement and Aboriginal Australians’ loss of Culture and their ‘hidden’ history. While acknowledging the intergenerational pain of post colonialism, McCarthy uses wit, humour and pathos to explore her own identity. Synchronicity also comes into play in McCarthy’s experimental painting, often determining its outcome and informing its own materiality.

Teena was awarded the prestigious King & Wood Mallesons Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Prize in 2018.

‘BHP (Be Humble Please)’ was first published in Verity La (2016).