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"I draw myself to reaffirm who I am." A childhood of comparisons with his uncle takes on a new meaning for Ben with the revelation that he'd taken his own life.


"My earliest memory of myself is crouching at the top of the stairs behind my older sister hearing my mum downstairs receive the tragic news about her younger brother.

We were too young for an explanation.

The death and life of my uncle was largely unspoken of, except for an occasional reference to my similarity to him.

I spent a lot of time under the table or concealed behind the sofa with paper and my pencils immersed in creating other worlds, passing time and listening to conversations, maybe waiting to hear the explanation or another bit of the puzzle.

I still have a roll of paper 40 metres long which I started drawing on when I was five and continued until I was 13, although the other worlds have long since vanished.

It wasn't until I was 16 that I learnt that my uncle had taken his own life and the comparisons suddenly became uncomfortable and uncertain.

Death at an early age is a tragedy but when that person chose to take his own life that tragedy is incomprehensible.

I draw myself to reaffirm who I am, aware that the ripples and resonance from the past still move me and every now and again I have to talk about my uncle to try and make sense of these things.

I'm aware that his memory has continuously influenced my life and one day I hope to be able to pick up his banjo and start to play it."

By: Ben Davis
Published: October 2004

An interview with the author

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am a community artist.

What's your story about?
Family tragedy and how a life of creativity can result as a consequence.

Why did you choose to tell this particular story?
This is a difficult and deeply rooted story to tell people and I found that it was a significant and supportive place to tell it.

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