Shortlist year: 2011

Shortlist category: Non-fiction

Published by: Scribe Publishing

A story of whitefella–blackfella friendship that offers hope for the future.

Two years after artist Rod Moss arrived in Alice Springs to teach painting, he met a married couple who had set up camp in the gully beside his flat. Over the next twenty-five years, his friendship with Xavier and Petrina Neil and the friendships that grew from it with the families of Whitegate, an Arrernte camp on the outskirts of town, would nourish and challenge Moss beyond his imagining.

The Hard Light of Day offers a rare insight into the reality of life in the Centre, from the contours of the MacDonnell Ranges and the textures and sounds of Arrernte culture, to the endemic violence, alcoholism and ill-health that continue to devastate Aboriginal lives. In recalling the relationships and experiences that have shaped his life and work in Alice Springs, Moss unsentimentally reveals the human face behind the statistics and celebrates the enriching, transformative power of friendship.

Illustrated with Moss's evocative paintings and photographs, The Hard Light of Day is an incredible journey into a world never shown in the mainstream media, and an artist's chronicle of the moments that have inspired him.

About the author

Rod Moss

Rod Moss grew up in Melbourne, heading to Alice Springs in 1984. The burnished colours of Central Australia and its Indigenous culture have informed his art ever since. His relationship with the Indigenous community is unique, based on decades of friendship and trust. In the timeframe of the book, many changes occurred in Rod's own life—marriage, birth of two children, divorce—but they sit in the background of the story as he focuses on the Aboriginal community, with their permission and participation.