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2011 | Mt Narryer

7 Day Sculpture Workshop Installation

This installation was done during a 6 day sculpture camp at Mt Narryer in the Murchison Station (our hosts - Carol and Sandy Mactaggart) with lecturers Tony Jones, and Louise Morrison and technician Matt Dickison.

The site was a house pad with the old metters stove complete with gal iron chimney. It was where the Aboriginal worker family had lived. The house was originally build in 1925 and of stone but in the 1940's an earthquake demolished it and it was rebuilt with asbestos (of course!). There had been a veranda off the front of the house and the front beams where still in place or falling down onto the concrete pad with a brutal critique of how they did or didn't treat their Aboriginal worker family.

I chose an Arabian comic story from a 1957 girls annual I had bought with me. 2 English girls go to the exotic - bad Arabs - bad religion - evil people - exotic etc... you can imagine the 1957 story line. I tore up small sections of the comic and inserted them into the weathered wood of the old veranda beams: anchored in place with tiny sticks. That done I turned to the metters and thought to use found beautiful white curved sticks (from in invasive Athol Pine) to talk about my journey through colonial and post colonial thought. This is the image with the sticks going through the oven.

In my ever constant search for all the stakeholders of stories I asked Carol Mactaggert to come and talk to me about the Aboriginal family who had lived there. She spent several hours with me just talking about the women, and how they had related to Her etc. One of the first things she said to me when looking at my 'sticks' though the oven was " you have really got it' - got what??? What it was like to feed the stove, the endless gathering of small pieces of wood that would fit in the small fire box of the metters, you can't cut up mallee wood, too hard, so you just have to find and gather all day. It was such a point of practical and relentless connection between all women on the station - both Aboriginal and non Aboriginal!!

While Carol talked I wrote and from these pages and pages I made the text statements - glued inside the metal chimney and also into the sticks. When I had finished the paper piece and the sticks I felt the installation was not resolved so I set about doing a mapping of the site and found some interesting bits that I placed in the 4 corners of the slab. The black and white button for the women - the galvanised nails for the Non Aboriginal men and the rusty dark (boomerang shaped) nails for the Aboriginal men: the little pieces of domestic memory and the colours on the asbestos for the walls.

I found a piece of the stone work of the original building and bits from a bed for another corner. I had wanted a minimal intervention because the site was so strong in itself which made it a very hard site to photograph. Carol said some very interesting things about seeing things a bit differently, Tony was very affirming of the work, and I won a 'Narryer' for my effort. A 'Narryer' is like an Oscar but not quite as grand!!! Looks amazingly like an interesting piece of mallee timber mounted on a Square of polished jarrah. I am so proud of my 'Narryer" mostly for being able to bring all the elements together and not offend someone who had lived the experience.