The Big Sick was a term commonly used by Kimberley Aboriginal people to describe Hansen’s disease (leprosy) which swept through the Kimberley between 1936 – 1986 prompting the establishment of a remote treatment facility called Bungarun Leprosarium, a national heritage site located outside of Derby, North Western Australia. Bungarun is haunted with stories of love, friendship, illness and the resilience of individuals and families suffering with Hansen’s disease. The site now abandoned and in an increasing decrepit state, marks a unique period of medical and community history especially for Kimberley Aboriginal people* removed from Country for treatment. Bungarun is a peaceful place during daylight hours, haunted by nightfall.
This project is still a work in progress, time spent as an artist in residency at Fremantle Art Centre supported the exploration of the Bungarun through three dimensional drawing, read the interview here.