Rest in peace, Uncle Cecil Bowden

I first met Uncle Cecil at Gibber Gunyah in 2002 when I was invited to make photographs at the first reunion of the survivors of Kinchela Boys Home (KBH). Uncle Cecil declined to have his portrait made at that time, but months later when we went back to the site of the original boys home near Kempsey, as part of the KBH journey of healing, he approached me to make his portrait. I was using an old Yashica 12 medium format camera to do the portraits. I took one shot and then, as I cranked the handle to wind the film to make another photograph, he disappeared. Uncle Cecil obviously thought that one frame was enough. Ten years later, an exhibition at Sydney University of 35 of my KBH portraits was opened by Professor Marie Bashir who was the Vice Chancellor and Governor of NSW and Aunty to the KBH men from her work at the Aboriginal Medical Service. Late in the afternoon the day before the opening, Pastor Ray Minniecon brought Uncle Cecil to the exhibition to give his seal of approval. Uncle Cecil walked around the gallery space in silence, stopping before each portrait and taking a long look. When he had looked at all of the portraits, still in silence, he walked to the side of the room, sat down and cried. I'll never forget you Unc.

_Cecil by Sarah Barker.jpg