A story of immense achievement

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Don and Koopah

australia

Jim at sacred fish hole of Thutirla Pula story

This short ABC news report – Twin celebrations for Wangkangurru Yarluyandi people, features Elders talking of their Native Title Claim success. I take my hat off to them for this success story; the years of hard work and the suffering that has gone into achieving this moment. Don Rowlands and Jim Crombie, who feature in the report, both helped develop the Grounded exhibition and I am so delighted to see them here relating the good news. Having had the honour of spending time with them, I know how much heart and soul has gone into getting to this point.

For those new to the blog, the Grounded exhibition, a commission by Glasgow Life for Festival 2014 XX Commonwealth Games, is now open at An Lanntair Art Gallery in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, from 13 September to 11 October, a partner event at Hebtember Festival.

The Grounded residency diary entries and photographs begin here in Scotland and then in Australia here. The book that accompanied the exhibition can be found at Exhibition explanatory book

You can also link to information about the exhibition at these links: Introductory panel in English and Introductory panel in Gaelic.

Three audiovisuals that were part of Grounded, and the promotional audiovisual, can be watched here

Educational workshops run at An Lanntair Gallery in conjunction with Grounded can be viewed here and here.

Joe’s educational video of me talking about the exhibition can be viewed here.

The introductory page for the blog can be found here. Feedback on the Glasgow Festival 2014, XX Commonwealth Games exhibition can be linked to here. Photos of the Glasgow opening event are here. Glasgow workshops, talks and exhibition details are here. And the Digital Resources pages of the blog for further information are here and here.

An interview about my work with journalist Jim Gilchrist is on the Struileag website which can be linked to here. And a response to the Alice Springs jail post by Professor Smith can be found here. A BBC Radio Scotland interview can be found here. A review by Dr Kate Robinson can be found here. And you can listen to a cut down recording of “In Conversation: Connecting through Culture” at this Vimeo link. (16 mins.) (One of our afternoon events at Glasgow Festival 2014 showing). Or listen to some music from one of our Glasgow afternoon events here.

My artist biography can be linked to here and here and my personal website is here

Some other sites that link to Grounded can be found here

Funder acknowledgements can be viewed here

 

In Conversation: Connecting through Culture

"In Conversation, Connecting through Culture", one of our afternoon events.

“In Conversation, Connecting through Culture”, one of our afternoon events.

As well as the great music during the afternoon sessions at the Grounded exhibition in Glasgow, we had this conversation (around the peats) about language, chaired by Rona MacDonald, the Gaelic Arts producer at Glasgow Life, and with special guest Craig Duggan, from BBC Wales, talking about Welsh language. Rona begins with a short Gaelic introduction, and we continue the conversation in English. You can listen to a cut down recording of the conversation at this Vimeo link. (16 mins.)

The Grounded exhibition is showing next at An Lanntair Art Gallery in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, from 13 September to 11 October, a partner event at Hebtember Festival. We are heading to the Outer Hebrides tomorrow so will be offline for a couple of weeks.

If you are new to the blog, the Grounded residency diary entries and photographs begin here in Scotland and then in Australia here. The book that accompanied the exhibition can be found at Exhibition explanatory book

Three audiovisuals that were part of Grounded, and the promotional audiovisual, can be watched here

The introductory page for the blog can be found here. Feedback on the Glasgow exhibition can be linked to here. Photos of the Glasgow opening event are here. Glasgow workshops, talks and exhibition details are here. And the Digital Resources pages of the blog for further information are here and here.

An interview about my work with journalist Jim Gilchrist is on the Struileag website which can be linked to here. And a response to the Alice Springs jail post by Professor Smith can be found here. A BBC Radio Scotland interview can be found here. A review by Dr Kate Robinson can be found here.

My artist biography can be linked to here and here and my personal website is here

A book and an audiovisual from Grounded

The loom

There is a booklet that accompanies the Grounded exhibition. The book shows the pairing of the Scottish and Australian photographs, and presents a short story to accompany each pairing. You can view this booklet at the link below. The images and stories do vary from the diaries written whilst on residency, that have previously been posted in this blog.

Exhibition explanatory book

I am also posting here the third audiovisual from Grounded. This was produced from material gathered in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It is 16 minutes long and can be watched here

The exhibition is showing next at An Lanntair Art Gallery in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, from 13 September to 11 October, a partner event at Hebtember Festival.

If you are new to the blog, the Grounded residency diary entries and photographs begin here in Scotland and then in Australia here. An interview about my work with journalist Jim Gilchrist is on the Struileag website which can be linked to here. And a response to the Alice Springs jail post by Professor Smith can be found here. A BBC Radio Scotland interview can be found here. A review by Dr Kate Robinson can be found here. The introductory page for the blog can be found here. Feedback on the Glasgow exhibition can be linked to here. Photos of the Glasgow opening event are here. Glasgow workshops, talks and exhibition details are here. And the Digital Resources pages of the blog for further information are here and here.

 

Who Cares for Country

This is a 4-minute sound piece with just a few visuals that flash up at the end. The sound piece was presented in a room with ultra-violet sand on the floor and the text displayed in ultra violet lettering on the wall. The songs in this sound piece are from the CD “Dreaming Songs of the Warumungu Women” and provided with their kind permission and that of Papulu Apparr-kari; and from Gaelic singer Ceitlin Smith.

The exhibition is showing next at An Lanntair Art Gallery in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, from 13 September to 11 October, a partner event at Hebtember Festival.

If you are new to the blog, the Grounded residency diary entries and photographs begin here in Scotland and then in Australia here. An interview about my work with journalist Jim Gilchrist is on the Struileag website which can be linked to here. And a response to the Alice Springs jail post by Professor Smith can be found here. A BBC Radio Scotland interview can be found here. A review by Dr Kate Robinson can be found here. The introductory page for the blog can be found here. Feedback on the Glasgow exhibition can be linked to here. Photos of the Glasgow opening event are here. Glasgow workshops, talks and exhibition details are here. And the Digital Resources pages of the blog for further information are here and here.

A Review of Grounded by Dr Kate Robinson

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Munga-Thirri (Simpson Desert)

Song, fire, peat, dream….

Jesus’s Footprint, the ridges of the sole matching the undulations of the rock; a solidified river; Creation story; the first man.

The Elder, Mark Inkamala, kneels in the sand in Ntaria (Hermannsburg), to show Judith Parrott, the artist who hails from two places in the world: from both Australia and Scotland.

Judith frames the image. She is shooting close, with a view from above: a fringe of grass and scrub; pale sand; red rock and Mark in his baseball cap and blue jeans. Judith takes the picture when Mark’s not looking at her but towards his right as though he sees someone coming towards them from the distance. The Footprint is striding ahead, leading us into the Bush.

I put the Footprint’s co-ordinates into Google Earth and zoom out: it’s almost bang in the centre of the continent. Zoom in and there’s a path: the Red Centre Way, cut through to the horizon, straight and flat as the land beneath the hooves of Sidney Nolan’s painting of Ned Kelly’s horse.

I am red like burning fire

I am covered with a glowing red down

I am red like burning fire

I am gleaming red, glistening with ochre…

The couplets are from Songs of Central Australia by Theodore Strehlow, as translated by the Australian poet Barry Hill. [i] Strehlow was the son of a Lutheran missionary who came to Hermannsburg – the site of Jesus’s Footprint – in the 1800s. The plain white church is still there amidst the scrubby trees. He grew up trilingual in English, German and Arrarnta; was initiated into Aboriginal rites and spent thirty years gathering and translating songs from Aboriginal languages. Although Strehlow was a controversial figure and the book is now out of print, Hill, the poet, believes Strehlow’s achievement in cherishing and recording Aboriginal song is a gem, a gift.

The whole land of Australia can be read as a musical score. So says Bruce Chatwin in The Songlines. Aboriginal songs are so closely connected to the earth, musical phrases are like map references. An ‘unsung land’ he says, ‘is a dead land’. It is a crime to allow the songs to be forgotten because then ‘the land itself will die.’[ii]

Judith is singing the land, both of Aboriginal Australia and of Gaelic-speaking Scotland. She is in harmony here with other contemporary Australian artists who use mapping and music. Julie Gough, for example, looks at unresolved histories often filming outdoors, the land integral to her work.[iii] Michaela Davies, who recently performed to acclaim in Scotland, employs music to rock our sense of agency and limits of control.[iv]

Like Aboriginal song couplets, Judith’s works are arranged in pairs though rather than stretching across a continent they span tectonic plates. An Australian image nestles next to a Scottish one. Mark Inkamala kneeling beside the Footprint is juxtaposed with Canon Angus MacQueen in his Barra kitchen greeting his white cat. The compassionate face of the healer Mary Therese Mulladad surrounded by purple-painted Serpents and orange mandorlas in skeins of silk is adjacent to Flora Macdonald, focussed and intent on her spinning.

During the Alcheringa, the Dreaming Time, the Aboriginal Ancestors sang the world into existence. Every rock and creek and hill and tree was born from song. I can imagine Lewis on the Isle of Lewis, in Judith’s image, singing the seaweed into shape as he casts it into the net.

Alexander Carmichael, a Greenock Customs and Excise Officer, spent much of his life collecting Gaelic lore, hymns and incantations to cast them into his own net, his well-kennt book, Carmina Gadelica. His aim was to capture the ‘genii of the Highlands… before the spirit of modernism’ swept them away.[v] He believed this subject – the chi, the essence, the soul of a place – should be investigated and compared with other lands; this is a baton with which Judith has run.

Of the Highlands, Carmichael wrote:

‘Religion, pagan or Christian, or both combined, permeated everything – blending and shading into one another like the iridescent colours of the rainbow. The people were sympathetic and synthetic, unable to see and careless to know where the secular began and the religious ended…’[vi]

Like Theodore Strehlow, Carmichael has had his detractors. Still, his book is a labour and a testament born of his love and respect for Gaelic tradition and language. He completed the first volume in 1899, incidentally the same year Freud, in Vienna, completed The Interpretation of Dreams.

Dreams and visions are embedded in Gaelic tradition. Dwelly’s Scots/Gaelic Dictionary lists pages of Gaelic words for dream: aisling, bruadair, dreang, fis, sealladh… Similarly, it records many words for vision: léisinn, radharc, dailgneachd, taibhse…The gift of second sight is prized.

In The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin accompanies a Russian man surveying the locale of a proposed railway line from Alice to Darwin. The Russian’s job is to identify the ‘traditional landowners’. Western law is etymologically ingrained with the boundaries of land, with fair distribution. The word ‘law’ itself, as Chatwin points out, has its basis in the ancient Greek word for pasture, nomos.[vii] Nomads, like birds and animals, find a Way through.

Chatwin – the Pom – and the Russian go on a journey in a beat-up old truck, meeting Aboriginal men and women along the way; in the towns; in country; missing, out on Walkabout. When they meet, they generally drink or eat together. Bottles of beer popped, steaks on the BBQ – songs and dreaming around the fire.

When Judith asked her Aboriginal colleagues for words which conjured the idea of land, ‘fire’ was key. Even on a journey, a hearth provides a sense of home. In the Highlands of Scotland the ritual of ‘smooring the fire’ was usually performed by the woman of the house. As a part of the exhibition we are re-creating a version, here, in the gallery.

Smooring the peat is, according to Carmina Gadelica, ‘artistic and symbolic, and is performed with loving care…. ’ Once complete, over the embers and the ashes, a blessing:

AN Tri numh                                                THE sacred Three
A chumhnadh,                                            To save,
A chomhnadh,                                            To shield,
A chomraig                                                 To surround
An tula,                                                       The hearth,
An taighe,                                                   The house,
An teaghlaich,                                             The household,
An oidhche,                                                This eve,
An nochd,                                                   This night,
O! an oidhche,                                            Oh! this eve,
An nochd,                                                   This night,
Agus gach oidhche,                                    And every night,
Gach aon oidhche.                                     Each single night.
Amen                                                           Amen.
[i] Hill, Barry, Broken Song, (Random House: Australia, 2012) Kindle Edition, loc.491.

[ii] Chatwin, Bruce, The Songlines, (Picador: London 1988) 58.

[iii] Gough, Julie, Traveller, HDMI video projection, 2013.

[iv] Davies, Michaela, Compositions for Involuntary Strings, performed at Tramway, Glasgow, 2013.

[v] Carmichael, Alexander, Carmina Gadelica, (Floris Books: Edinburgh 1992)30.

[vi] Ibid, 29.

[vii]Chatwin, 205.

Link to information about Dr Kate Robinson here.


If you are new to the blog, the Grounded residency diary entries and photographs begin here in Scotland and then in Australia here. An interview about my work with journalist Jim Gilchrist is on the Struileag website which can be linked to here. And a response to the Alice Springs jail post by Professor Smith can be found here. A BBC Radio Scotland interview can be found here. The introductory page for the blog can be found here. Feedback on the Glasgow exhibition can be linked to here. Glasgow workshops, talks and exhibition details are here. And the Digital Resources pages of the blog for further information are here and here.

The exhibition is showing next at An Lanntair Art Gallery in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, from 13 September to 11 October., a partner event at Hebtember Festival.

Insights on Grounded

Excuse my indulgence in posting at the end of this entry a small selection of the comment cards from the Grounded exhibition’s first showing in Glasgow. The many comments received about the importance of preserving culture and sense of place support the aims of the exhibition and I felt that a selection of these insights were therefor worth sharing.

Glasgow workshops, talks and exhibition details are here An interview about my work with journalist Jim Gilchrist is on the Struileag website which can be linked to here or here. And the Digital Resources pages of the blog for further information are here and here. The introductory panel for the exhibition can be found here.

The Grounded residency diary entries begin here in Scotland and then in Australia here. This is a record of my thoughts whilst gathering the material. These thoughts and images inform the production but are not part of the final exhibition.

The exhibition is showing next at An Lanntair Art Gallery in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, from 13 September to 11 October.

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Documenting Grounded at Festival 2014, XX Commonwealth Games, Glasgow

These are some official photos taken by Geewhiz digital photography of the Grounded opening on 22nd July 2014 (photos provided by Glasgow Life/Glasgow Arts). I have also included some snapshots from various other sources of the 2 weeks during the Games, at Festival 2014 and the Grounded exhibition.

2,500 people came through Grounded. We had a half-hour slot on Radio Scotland, which you can listen to at Voices of the Commonwealth (this only stays online until 29 August) Our slot is from 2hr 38mins to 3hr 6mins.

The exhibition is showing next at An Lanntair Art Gallery in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, from 12 September to 18 October.

If you are new to the blog, Grounded residency diary entries/photographs for Scotland begin here and for Australia here. Glasgow workshops, talks and exhibition details are here. An interview about my work with Journalist Jim Gilchrist is on the Struileag website which can be linked to here.

The first visitors arrive

The first visitors arrive

The smooring of the peat - a Gaelic Blessing

The smooring of the peat – a Gaelic Blessing

Wall selection

Wall selection

Sky recites her poetry at the opening event

Sky recites her poetry at the opening event

Text in Arrarnta and Gaelic on our windows

Text in Arrarnta and Gaelic on our windows

The opening speeches by Lorenzo, Director Merchant City festival; Kate, Curator; Rona, Gaelic Arts Producer; and myself

The opening speeches by Lorenzo, Director Merchant City festival; Kate, Curator; Rona, Gaelic Arts Producer; and myself

Ariel of the Singing Gaelic Ferries introduces the team

Ariel of the Singing Gaelic Ferries introduces the team

The speeches

The speeches

Some of the crowd at the opening event

Some of the crowd at the opening event

At the opening event

At the opening event

The Gaelic Ferries welcome people

The Gaelic Ferries welcome people

The Galgael cafe attached to the exhibition

The Galgael cafe attached to the exhibition

Dancing with Rona at the Galgael Cafe and exhibition space

Dancing with Rona at the Galgael Cafe and exhibition space; Gaelic and Arrarnta type on the wall

Gaelic performances at the exhibition

Gaelic performances at the exhibition

"In Conversation, Connecting through Culture", one of our afternoon events.

“In Conversation, Connecting through Culture”, one of our afternoon events.

More packed events around the peat fire

More packed events around the peat fire

Showing the Scottish Minister for Culture, Mr Michael Russell, around Grounded.

Showing the Scottish Minister for Culture, Mr Michael Russell, around Grounded.

Telling the Culture Minister about going to jail in Alice Springs (as per blog entry)

Telling the Culture Minister about going to jail in Alice Springs (as per blog entry of 6 June 2014)

The Culture Minister as photographer!

The Culture Minister as photographer!

Watching the Gaelic AV

Watching the Gaelic AV

Round table discussion at the Spiegeltent venue with other visiting artists

Round table discussion at the Spiegeltent venue with other visiting artists

Winning a medal for Australia

Winning a medal for Australia

Strip the Willow on Glasgow Green

Strip the Willow on Glasgow Green

Festival 2014

Festival 2014

An interview with journalist Jim Gilchrist

grass-plains-australia

An interview about my work with Journalist Jim Gilchrist is now available on the Struileag website which can be linked to at Jim Gilchrist’s review. This interview also contains a couple of the Grounded audiovisuals and some photographs. Thank you Struileag and Jim.

Struileag are also doing some wonderful work meeting with the Gaelic diaspora which you can see more about on their website, or even add your own story to. And they have some great performances lined up at Festival 2014

If you are new to the blog, Grounded residency diary entries/photographs for Scotland begin here and for Australia here. Workshops, talks and exhibition details are here

Heading to Glasgow; exhibition, workshops and artist talks details

seaweed-harvest

Lewis on Isle of Lewis; seaweed harvest

australia

Jim at sacred fish hole of Thutirla Pula story

Tomorrow we are heading to Glasgow to start setting up the exhibition, (and then to enjoy the festival), and so I will be absent from posting for a couple of weeks.

But before we go, I’d like to let you know that I am also running some workshops at the Airc Gaelic Cultural Space and giving two talks at Strathclyde University.

At the Airc Gaelic Cultural Space, 121/127 Saltmarket, (Sat 2 and Sunday 3 August at 9.30am) I am facilitating a photography workshop, and will be “In Conversation” with poet Babs MacGregor. The promo blurbs are here:

In Conversation: Connecting through Culture
Babs MacGregor, Gaelic Poet and Judith Parrott, artist for the Grounded exhibition, discuss what the impact of a strong cultural identity might be on personal and environmental well-being. In the discussion reference is made to Scottish Gaelic and Australian Aboriginal cultures; loss of land and suppression of language, and the deep connections to land that has kept these cultures alive. Chaired by Gaelic Arts Producer Rona MacDonald.

Photography workshop

Judy Parrott, artist from the Grounded Exhibition, invites you to bring your cameras along to the exhibition to discuss photographic composition and design in the context of the show. Then head out into the festival together to take a few exciting festival shots using some of your new-found skills. Suitable for age 15 years and over.

At Strathclyde University as part of their Summer Programme ( Phone 0141 548 2116/4287 or booking information is on page 55, here) on Monday 28 July

The promo blurbs:

Grounded (1.30-2.30pm)

In association with the exhibition Grounded, showing at Merchant City Festival during the Commonwealth Games 2014, this presentation includes images from Australian Aboriginal communities in the Central Desert regions, and from Gaelic speaking communities in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Two places with nothing and everything in common. The presentation invites discussion on ways in which people connect through the land and find spirituality through land. It also addresses the consequences for environmental and personal well-being when people become disconnected from the land.

Antarctica (12-1pm)

This class follows the life of the scientific and trades-people community during four months with the Australian Antarctic Division at Casey, Mawson and Davis Stations, on the ship south, and out on the field. Seen through the eyes of Artist in Residence, Judith Parrott, the presentation includes images and sounds of Antarctica and tells a story of life in one of the world’s remotest locations. How do people manage in an isolated environment with the same small group of people for months or even years at a time, with none of the conveniences of city life? Come along to find out and join in a discussion with the artist about the importance of community and of connection to our environment. (Some information on the Antarctica residencies can be found on my website here)

Grounded Exhibition

And finally, Grounded is on at 121/127 Saltmarket, at the Airc Gaelic Cultural Space, 11am to 6pm, 23 July to 3 August. Details can be found in the Merchant City Festival programme.

The Gaelic Cultural Space will also feature an acoustic programme of Gaelic inspired performances most days at 3pm, morning workshops at 9.30-10.30am and Galgael whose cafe was such a tasty success at last year’s Merchant City Festival.

There is a HD version of the short promotional video for Grounded here and a lower res version here.

Culture and Festival 2014 guides can be found here

Returning to the beginning

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Sand drift

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Country

I have reached the point in the Grounded blog where I said in my first Australia post “I begin this story at the end”. That is, it was the evening of the 21st September, ie the evening of yesterday’s posting, and the evening when I was arrested for doing no more than inquiring after the welfare of a friend; my first blog posting in this leg of the residencies. If you are new to this blog and haven’t read that post and the ensuing day in court, you can link to the story here or to the ensuing day in court here, and to the response by Professor of Criminology, Philip Smith, here. These stories are a window into a strange and disturbing world that is a routine problem for Indigenous people.

But now my post that follows the night in prison and the day in court:

24 September 2014

It’s Tuesday and I have been struggling to stay motivated for the last few days. I am gathering my strength to remain positive and arrange some meetings for tomorrow, so for some light relief I book myself onto the backpacker shuttle bus for a trip to the Alice Springs Desert Park. Its 38 degrees and I will have five hours of walking around in no shade through the middle of the day – but I’m going.

I immediately feel depressed by the light and happy nature of the backpacker shuttle. Their world seems a million miles from mine, like they are floating somewhere between here and the sky.

The Desert Park is well laid out, informative and easy to navigate around. I record the birds and read all the signs.

There is a talk about survival in the desert, which I decide to attend. I sink a little when I see it is taken by a non-Aboriginal person. Admittedly this is not usually the case.

The talk is clear and informative and interesting. She knows a lot. But I am left with an impression that all the Aboriginal people of Australia are happily living connected lives; seamlessly negotiating both the Aboriginal and non Aboriginal worlds in which they find themselves; the consequences of their displacement brushed to obscurity. She tells me that Aboriginal culture is evolving when I ask.

The speaker explains how the land is sacred, that the sanctity runs below the ground too. It is all through the ground. When the park was created, she tells us, the Elders were there to sing to the land and heal it as the bulldozers came through to lay the sewerage pipes and the amenities. My heart sinks some more.

It feels like the King’s New Clothes. This woman talks with a smile; with knowledge and authority. Perhaps it is me who has it wrong; a visitor who knows very little, who’s barely scraped the surface of the complexities of life here.

But this place is the physical heart of Australia; the spiritual cog around which the wheel is turning. From here energy must travel the spokes of the wheel and reach that distant coast, with its back turned and eyes gazing out to sea.

I watch the tourists leave; smiling, interested and satisfied.

(A Guardian article titled, “Indigenous incarceration rates are a national shame” can be read here, and I have many other links on the Australia Digital Resources Page of this blog which can be linked to here. I have also just added to that page an interesting article on Aboriginal languages that can also be linked to here. And a link to the Alice Springs Desert Park site.

Don’t forget too, where we started in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland – the first posting of which can be found here with digital resources here.)