The Inspiration Behind Fire Tree Perfume

Simon Constantine:
“I have been in love with Aboriginal culture and art since my school days. Having taken several trips to Australia, I had begun to get disillusioned with the way such a rich and mystical culture could be so decimated by Western living.

On my last visit to Australia I was fortunate enough to have time to visit the Warmun art centre. In a remote community on the eastern edge of the Kimberely range, the art centre is a modern yet modest facility for the local artists in the Aboriginal community of the Gija people. One particular painting of a solitary baobab tree left a lasting impression on me. It was inspired by 7 Gija people who lost their lives there. Thought to have stolen cattle from the ranch where they had been settled, the suspects were taken to the creek and shot. Now the baobab tree stands as a memorial to the event and a small plaque has been added to commemorate the sad loss of life.

Later that same day I meet a lady at a community gathering. To all intents and purposes she was a young aboriginal lady. When we talked, I realized that not only was she remarkably young-looking for her age but that she had led an incredible life. She had travelled extensively through Europe and South-East Asia as an artist before settling with a French duke in Darwin to have children. Nowadays she has moved back to her home and lives a mixture of modern life and bush tucker. It struck me that the seeds of recovery had been sown there. It was good to see that such a rich and rewarding life could be led by a person who a generation ago would have been actively ‘bred out’ and whose culture still struggles to survive.”