Roy McIvor

UntitledArtist Story

“My name is Roy McIvor and I live at Hope Vale, 50kms north of Cooktown. My mother was Rachel McIvor from Stonehenge, near Longreach. My father was Paddy McIvor from Binthi Country, near McIvor River, north of Hope Vale. I was born at Cape Bedford Mission in 1934 and later moved to Spring Hill. Both were Lutheran sites north of Cooktown in Far North Queensland. In 1942, my family and the Cape Bedford Community were forcibly removed from the mission by the military to Woorabinda, near Rockhampton. I spent the final years of my formal schooling in Woorabinda. I recall being inspired by the wife of a teacher, Mrs Jarrett. She was always complimenting me and supportive of my artistic ability and was a jolly good artist herself. Mrs Jarrett had said to me, “I hope you keep doing art,” and these words were the springboard into a life time interest and working in art for me.”

Roy’s curiosity and explorative nature have been expressed in the development of his artwork over time. He has experimented with many techniques and concepts for over 40 years, developing a truly unique Indigenous style. Roy is the ex-Chairman of Hope Vale Arts and Cultural Centre and has been a stalwart figure in the promotion of Indigenous art and culture at Hope Vale. He is a Board member of Cairns based UMI Arts.

Screenprint Stories

Print Workshop – Editions Tremblay NFP
Collaborative Printer – Theo Tremblay
Colour Separations – Paloma Ramos

  • Red Version: Bubu Gunbi ‘Dry’ (Earth-Blood)
  • Black Version: Yuku Ngaala ‘Burn-off’ (Fire – Sweat)
  • Blue Version: Buurraay Milbaal ‘Wet’ (Water-Tears)

Each is a 25 colour screen print (printed in 25 separate runs)

In June 2009 Roy met with printers Theo Tremblay and Paloma Ramos to discuss a print project. Amongst the many subjects, themes and techniques discussed, one image kept returning to the discussion. A painting which had been exhibited at Roy’s very first solo exhibition at the Cairns Regional Gallery the previous year: Tears, a smallish painting measuring a meter by 80 centimeters wide. Obsessively patterned with fields of circular medallions of flower-like bursts of colour covering the entire surface. Viewed from above, the forms were painted as splashing raindrops, as in a driving rainstorm.

In 2007, when the painting was made, Hopevale had experienced an unusually long dry season. Typically, bushfires will burn weeks on end, choking the air and blackening the land. With the increasing discomfort of rising temperatures and humidity, the dissatisfaction is reflected in people, who soon become argumentative and abusive to others. It is not unusual at this time of year to find hospitals filled to capacity and funerals. In 2007 that is exactly what took place. Explained only as the result of a long and withering ‘build-up’ to the wet season, Hopevale experienced a number of deaths.

Planning a series of paintings in his studio workshop, Roy told me he heard what he thought to be the crack of a rifle. Looking cautiously to the workroom window his fears seemed to be confirmed by the puffs of red bull-dust rising from the dry ground. A moment of extreme anxiety broke into disbelief when, discovering there was no gunman, what he saw was the result of large droplets of water and the onset of the first thunder storm. The Dry was over. Children and their parents came out into the streets and people began laughing again. The season’s cycle was rotating again and he felt like painting it, working every day until his painting was completed.

The painting Tears was shown to the Cairns people at Roy’s solo exhibition in Cairns in 2008. As a kind gesture to the curator, Susan Reid, he gave this painting to her for the work she had done in curating, framing and promoting his exhibition. Other versions of Tears have been made, but nothing quite as dazzling. In February 2010 Roy produced a similar painting, but nothing quite as elaborate as the original. It was then decided to interpret ‘Tears’ using the original by placing acetate cells over the painting and replicating each paint stroke, one by one to print as a screen print. Susan Reid generously loaned the painting for this process. As expected, the original painting would not be duplicated as a reproduction, but interpreted as best could, with sensitivity to the original. It was also thought that, instead of a single piece, a series of varied coloured works might expand upon the artists original intentions of producing the various stages of recording the colours and patterns of the onset of the wet from parched earth, to burning and the final deluge as expressed in a physically human nature – blood/earth (Bubu Gunbi), sweat/heat (Yuku Ngaala) and tears/rain (Buurraay Milbaal).