Fuaigh

fuaighbrochure_9-sep2016

Following on from the themes in Grounded, welcome to our Ceilidh!
Fuaigh is being shown on Monday 10 October, 8.30pm at Tramway Arts Centre, 25 Albert Drive, Glasgow. Fuaigh is part of National Theatre of Scotland’s Home Away Festival, and is being shown alongside a week of performances from Chicago, New Delhi, Brisbane, Dundee, Tomintoul and Glenlivet, Glasgow, Jamaica, the World Wide Web and Rio de Janeiro.
 

“Fuaigh centres around a traditional Gaelic Ceilidh. Using evocative song and dance, combined with striking visuals and a compelling narrative, the show will explore what happens when you leave behind your homeland and sail away to the metropolis. Fuaigh is an exciting new Gaelic theatre experience, promising a unique night at the theatre. Devised by an artistic team including celebrated singer and musician Gillebride McMillan, playwright and poet Rona MacDonald, visual artist and photographer Judith Parrott and director and writer John Binnie”.

Fuaigh is performed in Gaelic and English.

Our show is presented directly after a Corroboree devised by my colleague Fred Leone of Brisbane. Fred is from the Garawa and Butchella Nations of Queensland.
Bookings can be made online at:  tramway.org or here or by phone on 0845 330 3501
The show is also presented in South Uist on Saturday 1 October and again in Barra on Sat 15 October as part of The Mod.

Supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
In association with British Council and in partnership with Glasgow Life. With funding also from National Theatre Scotland, Creative Scotland, Bord na Gaidhlig, Traditional Arts Fund, Gaelic Books Council, and The Mod.

Meanwhile, Grounded is still touring with Flying Arts Alliance in Australia. Currently at Gympie Regional Gallery 23 August 2016 – 29 September 2016.

Then:
Gallery 107 Dalby 9 January – 23 February 2017
Goondiwindi Art Space – 11 March – 22 April, 2017
Mundubbera Regional Art Gallery 5th May 2017 – 28th June 2017
Gladstone Regional Art Gallery 22 July to 26 August, 2017
Tableland Regional Art Gallery, Atherton Dec’17 – Jan ‘18

You can book Grounded, and other great shows here: http://flyingarts.org.au/exhibitions/exhibitions-by-request/

Feedback from the comments book in Brisbane can be viewed via this link: Comments from Grounded at Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. And for a small selection of the feedback from the same show in Glasgow, during Festival 2014, XX Commonwealth Games, you can find comments here.

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

For those new to the blog, the Grounded exhibition, a commission by Glasgow Life for Festival 2014 XX Commonwealth Games, has also shown since at An Lanntair Art Gallery in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, as a partner event at Hebtember Festival.

The Colour of Language arts educational project came out of Grounded’s showing at An Lanntair in Stornoway, Scotland. The Colour of Language frieze is growing and now almost big enough to cover a wall at An Lanntair Gallery in Stornoway, with the latest additions by some children from Hazelwood North school in Gippsland, Australia. If you are interested in joining in you can contact me through this blog here.

The story of my time in jail in Alice Springs whilst on artist residency for Grounded, the subsequent lack of conviction in court, and implications of this story for the local Aboriginal population, can be linked to here. Then here for the court process following arrest. And a response to the Alice Springs jail post by Professor Smith can be found here.

Three audiovisuals that were part of Grounded, (Wadlu-gnana; Freumhaichte; Who Cares for Country) can be watched here

The book that accompanied the exhibition can be found at Exhibition explanatory book 

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.

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 read at Jim Gilchrist’s review or linked to 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.

A radio interview with BBC Radio Scotland Voices of the Commonwealth, which explores some of the concepts behind Grounded, is now available for listening to here.

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

The introductory page for the blog 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.

Some other sites that link to Grounded can be found here

Funder acknowledgements can be viewed here

The Tardis, Glasgow Merchant City Festival 2016

Tardis KeyMicrosoft Word - Shelter.docx

What’s inside The Tardis? I have the key so come along and find out during Glasgow Merchant City Festival, 12noon to 4pm 30 July to 7 August. Follow the poem trail and arrows to find The Tardis and disappear into another world.

Larach develops on the themes of Grounded, examining the influence of Gaels, who have moved from the homelands to the city, on the psyche of Glasgow.

Meanwhile, Grounded is still touring with Flying Arts Alliance in Australia. Next stop Gympie Regional Gallery 23 August 2016 – 29 September 2016.

Then:
Gallery 107 Dalby 9 January – 23 February 2017
Goondiwindi Art Space – 11 March – 22 April, 2017
Mundubbera Regional Art Gallery 5th May 2017 – 28th June 2017
Gladstone Regional Art Gallery 22 July to 26 August, 2017
Tableland Regional Art Gallery, Atherton Dec’17 – Jan ‘18

You can book Grounded, and other great shows here: http://flyingarts.org.au/exhibitions/exhibitions-by-request/

Feedback from the comments book in Brisbane can be viewed via this link: Comments from Grounded at Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts. And for a small selection of the feedback from the same show in Glasgow, during Festival 2014, XX Commonwealth Games, you can find comments here.

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

For those new to the blog, the Grounded exhibition, a commission by Glasgow Life for Festival 2014 XX Commonwealth Games, has also shown since at An Lanntair Art Gallery in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, as a partner event at Hebtember Festival.

The Colour of Language arts educational project came out of Grounded’s showing at An Lanntair in Stornoway, Scotland. The Colour of Language frieze is growing and now almost big enough to cover a wall at An Lanntair Gallery in Stornoway, with the latest additions by some children from Hazelwood North school in Gippsland, Australia. If you are interested in joining in you can contact me through this blog here.

The story of my time in jail in Alice Springs, subsequent lack of conviction in court, and implications of this story for the local Aboriginal population, can be linked to here. Then here for the court process following arrest. And a response to the Alice Springs jail post by Professor Smith can be found here.

Three audiovisuals that were part of Grounded, (Wadlu-gnana; Freumhaichte; Who Cares for Country) can be watched here

The book that accompanied the exhibition can be found at Exhibition explanatory book 

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.

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 read at Jim Gilchrist’s review or linked to 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.

A radio interview with BBC Radio Scotland Voices of the Commonwealth, which explores some of the concepts behind Grounded, is now available for listening to here.

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

The introductory page for the blog 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.

Some other sites that link to Grounded can be found here

Funder acknowledgements can be viewed here

The Colour of Language

arts education

Swatches from Leverhulme School in Harris

arts education

As part of An Lanntair arts education around the Grounded exhibition, Joe is going into the schools and asking the children to look closely at their environment and choose a particular colour. The associated word is written in Gaelic and English. The same thing is happening in Australian schools with Australian Aboriginal languages. In the end, the schools responses will be mixed as a giant wall of swatches displayed at an Lanntair Gallery and distributed to the schools.

The video of our other Saturday Art club workshop can also be viewed here.

For those new to the blog, the Grounded exhibition 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

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

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

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. Some other online sites that link to Grounded can be found here.

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

Saturday Art Club with Grounded

Working in collaboration with Joe Mahoney, this video shows the children at an Lanntair during their Saturday Art Club Session. The workshops were linked to the Grounded exhibition and encouraged the children to think about the environment that they live in. The thought about colours and landscape and each produced a diorama of their perfect land. The dioramas were linked by portals and a ‘fly by’ of a video camera captured their unique vision. The video can also be viewed here.

For those new to the blog, the Grounded exhibition 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

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

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

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

A Review of Grounded by Dr Kate Robinson

big-red-simpson-desert-munga-thirri-national-park2

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

Day 25, The strength to turn life around through cultural pride

Koondi (throwing sticks) from Donna's ancestry, displayed on the clay pan beside an ancient gibber circle.

Koondi (throwing sticks) from Donna and Lyndall’s Wangkangurru ancestry, displayed on the clay pan beside an ancient gibber circle.

13 August 2013

The kites are circling in the sky, layering on the up-draught, black against stark blue, the highest fading to a prick of pale grey. But on the ground around my feet they are all large shadows spinning out like dancers on the ropes of a fairground maypole; or like shadows of a mobile by low candlelight, on a child’s bedroom wall.

I am walking to Lyndall’s place; a long hot walk, no shade on the wide empty streets, and no pedestrians. No lack though of inflated long-distance trucks and dusty 4WD’s with their enormous touring trailers.

Jacinta greets me at the fly-screen door, with the shining smile and swiftly alternating mixture of curiosity and shyness of a three-year-old. We all three have a coffee, sitting in the shade on the steps, the heat of the day building around us. Lyndall’s brothers and cousins are traveling from all around for the Rodeo in town this weekend, so the time is not right for talking about her stories and paintings. But she introduces me to a fascinating array of rodeo magazines and videos in preparation for what I should expect at the rodeo in town on Friday. Jacinta and I draw horses on the whitewashed wall. My first rodeo! I feel more prepared now.

I leave Lyndall at just past noon, and the day is pressing in with heavy, hot layers, matting my hair with dust. I am wearing long sleeves and loose trousers to protect my skin but I have changed my mind on this and head home to dress in something cooler before meeting Donna this afternoon.

Donna is the daughter of Don Rowlands, Wangkangurru Elder of the Simpson Desert. My time in Longreach is en route to spending time with Don in Birdsville.

Donna works at the visitor information centre in town. She is bright and strong and her smile belies the tales she is telling of how hard it is to stay strong as an Aboriginal person in a largely Anglo-Saxon town.

As a young child growing up in Birdsville it was not so cool to learn about heritage and listen to the knowledge of the Wangkangurru. And at boarding school, Donna talks of the racial attacks. She tells me how hurt she used to be by the name-calling and stone throwing, but how she would never talk about it because of the shame she felt.

Now she is older and with children herself, she realizes the richness of her cultural heritage; the opportunities she missed not going more often into the desert. Now she knows and teaches her children, in the same way as her father taught her.

My daughter has also been bullied in recent times, she says. “You have to be proud of who you are”, Donna tells her. “You have to be proud of your skin and what your roots are”.

“She has bounced back”, Donna says. “She is strong. My daughter is a tall, proud, Indigenous girl”. I met Donna’s daughter. What a beautiful girl she is.

Donna is very proud of her father and what he has done to pass on the traditional knowledge. She tells me it was when the land title was finally given back to the Wangkangurru people of the Simpson Desert, that Don decided it was vital to teach the importance of having the culture within themselves. She talks of how there was only Don and a few others who remained; who still knew the language and stories, and how he realized he had to act before it was all lost.

“My father took me to a massacre sight in the desert. The skeletons were still there”, she says, “and it hit me from that day on how important it was; how my father felt being one of the last traditional owners”. Donna also realized then that they had to do something about it.

Donna has been through a nervous breakdown to get to where she is today, and her daughter has suffered in the same way too. “I knew I had to reach inside myself and trust in my culture and roots”, Donna says. “My dad and my mum make me the proudest daughter in the world; knowing how proud my dad is of his culture makes me proud to be a part of that. It just makes me feel so strong.”

What beautiful, strong, proud people this family is today, with so much to offer the world. I deeply appreciate the generous sharing of their story.

(There are some links to Wangkangurru information on the Australia Digital Resources page of the blog)

Day 24, Australia; returning to the start of the second residency

Zane Douglas with his painting for My Earth Calls

Zane Douglas with his painting for My Earth Calls

12 August 2013

I am in Longreach, Central West Queensland, Australia. It is only a couple of weeks since I was in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, but already I am on the other side of the world; Stage Two of the residencies.

It is winter but the daytime temperatures are reaching 33 degrees, in stark contrast to the Outer Hebrides. And though at night it drops to 5 or 6 degrees my bedsit room in the top of the old wooden Arts and Crafts Heritage Centre remains sultry and hot under a thin tin roof. Heather is seeking out a portable air conditioner, for which I am intensely grateful.

I am sitting at a little square table covered with a yellow gingham cloth; out on the wrap-around verandah in the cooling evening, my verandah doors open to the night and the moths and mosquitoes that seek out my light. There is a beeping of reversing trucks slicing through the black night air, a rumble of road trains along the nearby highway that stretches north to Darwin; the softer sound of cicadas chirping lightly in the middle distance. A smell of smoke is hanging like dust and the inevitable dog barks somewhere in the night.

I have cooked a simple tea downstairs in the kitchenette attached to the crafts workshop space; a walk around the verandah that overlooks the sprawling, country-town streets, and down the wooden steps with my head torch, to the kitchenette.

On my first night here I was taken for dinner to meet Zane and Lyndall, two Australian Aboriginal artists and friends of Kristy from Vast Arts, part-sponsors of my residency. Zane and Lyndall are painting for an exhibition entitled My Earth Calls, to be presented by Red Ridge at the Stockman’s Hall of Fame.

In the way of synchronicity, it seems we are already strangely connected. I learn that Zane is from Tagalaka country, Croydon, near Normanton, hundreds of miles away to the north in the Gulf Country. Normanton is where I met Sidney, who I introduced you to in my blog home page and introduction to this project. And Sidney is Zane’s father’s cousin, Zane’s Uncle.

I tell Zane the story of my meeting with Sidney 2 years ago in the empty Normanton street; of our ambling conversation and its impact on my motivation to finally get this project off the ground. Zane is the first person I have met on this Australian leg of the project. And throughout the evening we shake our heads and laugh again at the connection that is already there, hovering in the wings. I ask Zane to give my best wishes to Sidney. Zane agrees saying we must complete the circle.

Even so, the connections do not end here. Because Lyndall, the only other person I have so far been introduced to here, is from Wangkangurru country around Birdsville where I am heading from here. It is meant to be, she says.

In the late afternoon, Heather pops by to see how my wonderful air conditioner is working and invites me round to meet her husband and his fossil collection. He is a true man of the west, with his beaten up hat and long relaxed beard. Their yard evokes a sense of both order and chaos, with the hundred upon hundreds of sea fossils he has collected from this unlikely place: crabs, sharks teeth, spiral shells, all stacked and displayed amidst old glass bottles, bits of engine, rocks of agate, opal, iron; and two kangaroos lazing sleepily under the hot interior sun.

(A link to a map of Aboriginal Australian languages is available in the Australia Digital Resources page of the blog, and a list of Australian Aboriginal languages)

The court process following arrest

Charge sheet

Bail sheet

22 September 2013

It is Sunday and I awaken to reality. I rarely meet forensic psychologists but I have met one in my two weeks here and he lives just across the park from where I am staying. He is my first port of call in search of assistance – a silver thread across the park. Breakfast is immediately on and support is underway: letters to contacts in legal aid, and to journalist friends, and the drafting of a statement on my behalf.

What would I do without him? – No one here to support me, no knowledge of the system, and only a few minutes before my court appearance to talk to whatever stranger happens to be at legal aid before my hearing.

But this is also good – I am getting some first-hand experience of how it is for the Australian Aboriginal people of Alice Springs – the majority of whom, I am told, have been through the prison system – very clearly through no fault of their own. According to one ABC report titled “Indigenous Prison Rates are a National Shame” in 20 years, the rate of one in seven people incarcerated being Aboriginal has increased to one in four. And, as an artist, I have the opportunity to share this with you in the glowing clarity of my own story.

Monday morning.

I enter the wide high hall of the courts, somehow designed to make us feel smaller. My bags and I are scanned, and I am in a foyer, with a TV screen listing the names of the people to be called for the court. My name is there.

I must find the legal aid solicitor before I am called. I am lucky. My statement has been written, my biography and my website copied, and a reference written for me. Geoffrey, back in Brisbane, has also given advice on what and how to present. I arrive prepared and supported by a group of well-informed people. I feel it is a very different situation for the Aboriginal people around me who mill out of place in the foreign confines of a structure designed far, far away.

The duty solicitor is behind a desk piled high with people’s needs and he advises me to wait. We hover outside his door. Time ticks by with monotonous haste to the moment of being called. I feel vulnerable and dangerously invisible despite my heaven-sent support.

When we are at last called into his office the solicitor tells us the police papers are not ready. He doesn’t know the charges. A defence cannot be made until he knows. I thrust out my paperwork for him to read before the veil of overburden is pulled down again between us, and he disappears to discuss the matter with the prosecution.

The solicitor returns to say it appears the prosecution think there is no case. He decides he wants to get the bail condition removed and the charges of “Hindering a Policeman” dropped.

We sit in the sharp, clean silence of the court, shuffling loosely along to let others join us at our bench, as if at some church pew. Indeed – we are here to be judged. And we appear crumpled in all the smartness. Names are called. Formalities followed. The smell in here is of polished pine and blue cloth but the air is uneasy. There are two sides to the fence; those who sit limply waiting to be called, and those who march through procedure.

My name is called. It must only be a matter of seconds and I am dismissed, forgotten, eyes turned to the next. The police do not have their paperwork and I am discharged from bail. I am expected to gratefully depart. An invisible cloak falls over the seven hours already spent in gaol.

It remains that I may be summonsed at any time over the next 6 months. I am also advised by the solicitor that if the police decide to increase the charge, I might be summonsed at any time, even after the 6 months period. I am told there is only a one-month period, however, in which I can lodge a complaint.

I leave the court feeling dazed. My support team guide me across the road and we sit over coffee together. Have the police effectively made complaint impossible? I am certainly advised against it by everyone around me. The journalist agrees it would not be in my interest to write up the story. I am to lie low.

I am in Australia. I have been locked up for seven hours for asking after the welfare of my friend. Even the police, when I asked them at the gaol, did not manage to say they would not do the same in my situation.

I have not complained. I am however doing as I said I would do. The Northern Territory Police are included internationally in the Grounded exhibition, and on my blog. I thank them once again for this opportunity. They have provided material to raise a debate on whether perhaps the Aboriginal people of Alice Springs are being locked up without justification, and on how appropriate the systems are.

I have started these posts from Australia with the last days of the Grounded artist residency. Tomorrow I’ll return to the beginning of the story and introduce you to the beautiful Australian Aboriginal people I met along the way, and the stories they are very willing to share.

(You can visit more web articles from the Australia Digital Resources page of this blog)