Publication Details

Wood Conroy, D. (2014). Pam Johnston Dahl Helm: Lost to our Mothers. Coolabah, (14), 1-17.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Australian Studies Centre - Coolabah


In the time I knew Pam Johnstoni during her doctoral study at the University of Wollongong (1995-1998) the search for mothers, the need for certain and indissoluble affections underpinned her art and writing. The father was lost and absent: there was a constant matrilineal momentum in her positioning of herself. “To explore mother daughter relationships, to examine oral histories as a way back to Aboriginal connections to land”, she wrote, was pivotal to her work (Johnston 1997, p.5). As a tribute to her, and because of my admiration for her courage and passion for justice I would like to tease out some of the complexities of her exploration by placing her in the context of her times.