Tracey Moffatt AO

Tracey Moffatt has had a successful career as a photographer and filmmaker.

Honour Roll

Tracey Moffatt was born on 12 November 1960 and grew up in Mount Gravatt which was a white working-class outer suburb of Brisbane. She was the second of five children, but her mother was not able to raise them herself. All except one brother was fostered out to an older white woman, and a friend of Daphne Moffatt's, Mrs Davidson, who they called 'Nan'. It was a busy and stimulating environment at the Davidson household as she was a key figure in the neighbourhood so all sorts of people came by for a chat. Every once in a while their mum would take them to see their relatives in Cherbourg, which Tracey felt was really home.

At school Tracey was only good at Art and English. After matriculation she worked hard to save money to hitchhike around Europe with friends for eight months. Following this she enrolled at Queensland College of the Arts. In second year she decided she wanted to major in filmmaking. She also studied painting, sculpture and photography. Occasionally she was politically active. She wanted to work with her community but was disappointed by the whole experience so decided to go independent.

She moved to Sydney and made contacts and got some work as a photographer however she found the stints on the dole between jobs to be depressing. Then she received a grant to make a short film, Nice Coloured Girls (1987) following which she became better known and was offered work with SBS-TV and Film Australia.

She came into contact with many black radicals over this period and this inspired her to pursue her goals. She did some work for the Aboriginal Medical Service making health education videos and tried to make them in a way that people would watch them and learn. Her photography has also been well received. Her images were intricately composed, giving prominence to Aboriginality. She often placed herself in the picture.

In 1990, she made another short film, Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy, which was more contrived and artificial yet with a stunning visual style. In 1993, Tracey produced her first feature film with a reasonable budget, BeDevil. She received a grant from the Australian Film Commission to script the film. It received an ambivalent critical response with its stylistic experimentation. It was only the second feature film to be directed by an Aboriginal person, and the first to be released commercially.