PRINT BY ARTIST PETER CAMERON1990
Large, colour linocut print by artist Peter Irwin Cameron, titled 'RAINBOW SERPENT IN THUNDERSTORM'. The artwork shows a toothed Rainbow Serpent forming a U-shape, in the centre of the paper. The serpent has two eyes and two ears, and seaweed is depicted around its forehead and tail. The title is handwritten in pencil at the centre of the bottom of the image. In the lower left hand corner, written in pencil, is, '3/40 UNIQUE IMAGE' and at the right-hand corner, 'P.I. CAMERON'. The text 'PI CAMERON 90' has also been etched into the print itself, in the lower right-hand corner.
Dating from 1990, the rainbow serpent depicted here shares the same head as that depicted in the 4 Division Yard Mural.
Born in Geraldton in 1960, Peter Irwin Cameron was a Yamatji man. He was first sent to prison in 1975, convicted of five counts of burglary, when he was 14 years old. In 1988 he was placed on remand at Cannington, charged with murdering his fiancée’s lover after finding them in bed together. He was convicted, and sent to Fremantle Prison to serve his life sentence. When Fremantle Prison closed in 1991 he was transferred to Casuarina Prison, where he served a further six years of his sentence, before being transferred to Karnet Prison Farm.
While at Fremantle Prison, Cameron began studying for a Bachelor of Health Sciences, and began producing his art. He designed the Kulunga Research Network logo, which is run by the Telethon Child Health Research Institute, where he regularly corresponded with Professor Fiona Stanley.
Cameron was very proud of his Aboriginal heritage. With two other prisoners, he designed and painted the 4 Division yard mural at Fremantle Prison, a mural designed as a tribute to the many Aboriginal cultures from around Australia who were represented behind the walls of Fremantle Prison.
In 1996 Cameron was on a pre-release program, and was allowed to leave Karnet Prison Farm unaccompanied, to attend laboratory sessions for a medical technology degree he was studying for at Curtin University. Cameron’s final release from prison was set for January 1997, upon which Cameron planned to complete his studies and hold a touring exhibition of his artworks. However, Cameron died of a heart attack at 2:30am on Saturday 11 January 1997, aged 36. At that time, he was on a 36 hour leave pass, the completion of which marked the end of his sentence. Therefore, Cameron died just 17 hours before his official release from prison. His death is classed as an Aboriginal death in custody.
It is not known whether the set of linocut prints in the Fremantle Prison Collection where completed by Peter Cameron during his incarceration at Casuarina or Fremantle Prison.