Skin Painting

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Elizabeth Hodgson is a fair-skinned aboriginal woman (Wiradjuri woman). She was taken from her parents at a very young age and placed in a home for fair-skinned Aboriginal children in Sydney.

The deeply evocative and moving poetry in this collection tells her story: "My story cannot be painted onto a canvas – it is a skin painting."

Brave, haunting and evocative, Skin Painting is poetry as memoir. From her early experiences in an institution and the effect of this on her family to the illustration of her strength and independence as an adult, Elizabeth Hodgson helps make a slice of Aboriginal experience accessible and resonant.

Skin Painting explores themes of art, identity, sexuality and loneliness. It is both universal and intimate, honest and important.

Skin Painting was winner of the David Unaipon Award and was highly commended for the Anne Elder Award 2008.

They change my name, I am no longer Elizabeth
Because another girl here has the same name;
Now I must answer to Beth.
They have given me a number,
This number is tagged on my clothes
My undies, socks and shoes.
It is cut into the wooden towel rack,
the napkin ring,
it is emblazoned on my limp cloth lunch bag.
Later, when I go to school
Friends ask why--
I say that's my number,
that's me,
I am girl number one.

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Cite this page

Korff, J 2018, Skin Painting, <>, retrieved 22 April 2024

Creative Spirits is a starting point for everyone to learn about Aboriginal culture. Please use primary sources for academic work.

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