PART 2: WEEK 3 - 5

My third week in Leonora was busy working with the school. On the Tuesday we had 8 adults and 6 children attending a LED light workshop in the studio, which myself and Dennis had prepared.

On the Wednesday we prepared another 150 sheets of paper for the cyanotype print workshop, which needed to be completed in darkness. On Wednesday evening I went to the women’s group again and I brought some chicken-wire and bendable LED lights and worked with 5 women to produce their own language signs upon request, so that was fun.

Dennis (my artist assistant) and I went to the school Thursday morning to work with the high school class. My proposal was to create ‘selfies’ in cyanotype- but first we needed portraits of the involved. I brought my DSLR and set up a quick/temporary studio and worked with 8 kids. Each portrait needed to be inverted and I also made some pictures posterized to create more of a ‘poster’ feel.

On Friday morning, we welcomed the high school to our studio and informed the set up a system on how to produce their cyanotype images. As it is quite a direct process and easy to over expose (the image goes total dark blue) we had to work swiftly as it was a bright clear day, and the UV rays strong. Both Dennis and Istructed the high school students how to work, by placing transparency, exposure in sun and to develop in a tray of water. One of the kids, Daryl, a young fella, was initially not particularly interested, but once he saw how his own face emerged in the water process he wanted to test out and do a few more. After one+ intenses hour they had made over 75 images and we took a break having some juice, fruit and biscuits. We were discussing the exhibition and how their images would be part of it. Then we worked a little longer before the school had to go back to their classrooms.

We made around 120 images with the school that included portraits and different objects and flowers. We placed the images to dry and we cleaned up the space and called it a day.

That evening myself and Elaine took 2 signs out for a test arrangement / photoshoot in the landscape. We placed the signs in front of Mt Leonora just before 6.30 pm and switched the signs on- it looked wonderful!

On the weekend we took Dennis and Peddilla to the forgotten for (an old mine pit) where Dennis used to go swimming as a child. We then headed over to Malcolm Dam, which was stunning with lots of flowers and water. We had a picnic and went for a walk. I did some sound recordings in the water. Before heading back to Leonora we climbed Malcolm hill in 37 degree heat having a look at the wonderful view. That afternoon I spent visiting Talitha and Roderick and we made some more cyanoprints in their garden. Their two daughters were running around playing with the newly arrived duck, which was little, fluffy and yellow.

Sunday afternoon myself and Elaine headed out to lake Raeside to do some filming. I was searching for a location with a red dirt road for some performative works, which I often engaged in through various locations around the globe. I wanted to do a large-scale print / painting using the landscape and the colours available for imprint. We used Elaine’s car but I also dressed up in one of my ‘characters’ wearing a spell dress and a mask as part of the performance / action. It’s a direct engagement through vehicle and body physically dragging around a huge sheet (7 mtrs) fabric. The residue shapes the print. I set up my camera and asked Elaine to shoot whilst I entered the Salt Lake with the fabric and then dragged it across the landscape, picking up dirt and pebbles, becoming crystallized because of the saltwater on the fabric. 

Elaine was very supportive and thought it was great fun- as it is quite a crazy activity that I often just do by myself.

WEEK 4

Last week - lots to do. Monday morning I was interviewed by Spirit radio that was broadcast on Wednesday, the day before my light event. Then the ABC Goldfields and Esperance team contacted me as they saw one of my test images of a couple of signs out by Mt Leonora on the Leonora grapevine, facebook group page. They wanted to come out to the event and film it as they thought it looked so great. 

I headed to the studio to meet with Dennis. We worked on assembling more of the signs and I left him and Peddilla to be in charge whilst I worked on the invite and marketing with Elaine. We sent out all the invites that afternoon. Monday evening Elaine had arranged a dinner for some of the people in Leonora, which was lovely. Elaine told them about our fabric mud race and I am not sure what they made of it except laughing about it. 

Elaine had also just finished a huge restoration on the mining head frame that very day (Monday) so lots of things happened at once.

Tuesday myself and Elaine went to check on the cottage in Gwalia where we wanted to hang all the cyanotype prints made with the community. The days were getting hotter and we found out that the event day on Thursday was supposed to be 42 degrees with high winds. Damn! Back to the Shire we went to organise chairs for the event and sand bags for all the signs. We also arranged catering of sandwiches and nibbles and we had Talitha to make her famous cakes.

Wednesday took up most of the day of finishing off the signs, pack everything for the event such as tools and lights, cups and plates etc.

We had an early evening as we had to go up at 5.30 am to start installing the cyanotype in the cottages- as by 11 am it would already be 35 degrees meaning 45 inside the cottages.

I installed the lights with the help of Elaine. We then moved onto the fabrics and started to pin up the somewhat 150 pieces of cyanotype. Not so easy as the warm desert winds were picking up.

I wanted to interview Dennis and we had arranged for this to happen this morning too. The ABC called and said they would be coming around 3.30pm. So it was just go-go. Driving out into the landscape myself and Dennis talked for about 25 minutes in hot weather.

Back home we both noticed we were orange because of the high winds, desert sand onto sweaty skin. Shower. Food. Water. Get changed. Meet with ABC- interview at 4pm for 20 min inside the cottage at around 42 degrees outside- probably 47 inside. Very hot. Back to the studio to meet Roderick who also work for the Shire. Picking up all the signs whilst the ABC is filming. Heading out to the Mt Leonora / Dingo Dreaming to install the signs. I asked the ABC to interview Dennis too, as he is from Leonora and he has come back to work with youths and had recently set up basketball activities Mondays and Wednesdays. Arranging signs, sandbags and chairs. Elaine head to pick up esky with water and juice, cakes and catering stuff- we are now heading towards 5.45pm.  There is a meeting in town on community awareness on suicide that finished at 6pm. We decided that this art event would complement this quite well as a positive and fun event and asked the Shire if they could arrange a bus service out to Mt Leonora for easy access- as people wouldn’t walk 1,5 km in 42 degrees heat. So, at 6.20pm a busload came full of people, that is 40 in total. Great.

The bus left and came back with a second load, oh, another 40 people, then individual cars started to drive in. O.K now I was getting nervous, called Elaine and said we filled our estimate twice already! The ABC was gobsmacked, Laura the reporter said that this is amazing. Then Jim Epis the CEO and the Shire president arrived with their families. It was just amazing.

We started at 7pm on the dot. Elaine did an introduction, I spoke briefly and Dennis spoke thanking the Elders for allowing us to use their land (the site is significant and we were allowed to place the signs in front of the Dingo Dreaming).

Then we invited all participants who had made signs up to switch on their signs. And people loved it. There were tears and laughs and everyone wondered around asking what this meant and what that meant- as the languages were not only in English, but in many languages. On Jim Epis’ instruction, we left the signs on all night so people could see them driving past. We then headed to the cottages for food and to see the prints. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and everyone was very impressed and happy. We were told that over 100 people attended.

The signs were picked up Friday morning and donated to the school. I also gave lots of their prints to decorate the school rooms with. A sad walk around saying goodbye to people. In the afternoon myself and Elaine took a trip to lake Horan and Raeside salt lake to do a second filming on my performative salt lake painting, using some of the black fabric. It was a beautiful day and a nice way to end.

That evening at dinner, we were approached by several people, who complemented the light project. They loved it. We both got hugs and it was emotional, feeling that this community really appreciated all that work.

Saturday, we headed to Kalgoorlie as I was flying out to Perth on Sunday morning. We went to have lunch with Geraldine and Luxie who were staying in Kalgoorile. It was very nice to be able to see them. I love these women and see them as family. It was lovely to hang out, but very sad to leave them, we all cried. I brought some bendable LED lights so Luxie could get a sense of what we had done. We then decided to ‘pimp’ her walking frame in yellow LED. So she can turn it on when she fancies a bit of light. They had a painting with a story telling made for me and it will be sent to me in the post. I will see them again. I am certain.

That evening Elaine and I had dinner out, just to catch our breaths. Sunday I was dropped at the airport and we parted ways. Again, we will be in touch as we have become good friends, learning a lot from each other. 

WEEK 5

On Monday morning, I headed to Adelaide to interview Donna Reid who lived in Leonora 1970’s for 11 years, and who was the founder of Gwalia Museum. She is an artist who followed her husband Don Reid to work in the Goldfields as an engineer geologist, straight from her home in Nebraska where they met. She was very involved in rescuing Gwalia, stopping the demolition of cottages and managed to ensure it was seen as a valuable heritage asset, that should be kept. Today Gwalia is probably Leonora’s best tourist attraction, after gold prospecting. A heritage site important to the Goldfields and something Elaine is also working on; restoring Gwalia museum and archives.

I have hours of footage and interviews with Donna from my 2 days with her. The extent of her artistic practice is inspired by Gwalia and mining woodwork patterns. This will become a short film on the history of Gwalia from an artist perspective of heritage and history. My contribution to Donna’s work is a stop motion animation from some of her objects left behind in Gwalia museum. This film / animation will be donated to the Shire and the museum, and could feature as an addition to the other information around the museum history, to not forget why Gwalia is still there (without Donna, Gwalia wouldn’t be there). I am also intending to use my encounter with Donna for the final spaced 3: north by southeast exhibition in 2018, as she is the core inspiration from my encounter with Gwalia. I feel like I have traced her footsteps, only 40 years apart.

Part 2: Week 1 - 3

After 8991 miles, I arrived in a cold 14 degrees Perth on the 3rd October, after leaving Europe with around 20 degree Celsius. I didn’t sleep much on the plane but was making sure to arrive back in Leonora with some energy and my jetlag behind me. Like many outback places it is far and distant to anything. Whilst in Perth I decided to book in for a hot bamboo massage and yoga (I don’t usually indulge, but it was so worth it) and it surely drove the jetlag out of my body. Over 5 days with various meetings with IAS and my Aboriginal Cultural advisor Ron Bradfield Jnr., as well as revisits with old friends and a chance to go to the Pinnacles and Lancelin sand dunes I finally arrived in Kalgoorlie on Sunday 8th October. Elaine Labuschagne from the Shire of Leonora and my host for the project picked me up at the airport. Now a 3-hour drive awaited us through the red desert landscape. The road was littered with road kill such as kangaroos, cows and the odd lizard/goanna. The heat is already getting beyond comfortable of 35 degrees, what did I complain about in Perth?

Elaine and I became close friends in my last trip to Leonora, so we had lots to catch up on. Elaine is the Heritage Manager in Leonora, responsible for the large locale that is the Leonora Shire, and in particular for the Gwalia ghost town and former mine preservation. She arrived in Leonora 4 years ago, herself being a native South African. Whilst I was in Leonora last year she was in the process of organising  a display of the local Wongatha woman Geraldine Hogarth’s OBE award for life-long work in hearing health and language, which I was included in to materialise. This gave me a closer understanding and exchange with Geraldine and her mother Luxie, who I very much was looking forward to seeing again. So upon arrival we quickly arranged a dinner and I cooked roasted chicken with veggies and a Swedish style apple crumble. It was wonderful to see them again and despite Luxie having become a bit frail with hip problems we laughed throughout the evening. All I can say is that I love these women. The first week in Leonora included a re-acquaintance with the school, the youth centre and its new employee Rene Reddingius Jnr., the Medec centre, alongside arranging to move into a space where I could work for the next 4 weeks - the old Community Resource Centre (which had moved to a new flashy building elsewhere in Leonora together with many other business and organisations).

It is great that the Shire made sure I could have such a central space to work in as it makes it easier for people to come and find me even though Leonora is small, only one short high street.

On the Wednesday I attended the Women’s group with Elaine where we learnt basket weaving from a lovely woman called Leonie, a new temporary teacher at the school.

That first weekend I was invited to go to Sandstone with Elaine to attend a meeting of museums in the area and the opening of the Sandstone WW1 exhibition Remembering Them, which celebrated Marge Landy’s work in Sandstone over the last 8 years. 

I will come back to Sandstone later, but my initial perception of this little town was filled with eeriness, despite lovely company. The town only has 53 inhabitants but a brand new observatory- and my oh my, were the stars bright out there! We could very clearly see the Milky Way.

On our way back Elaine took me to see the famous ‘London Bridge’ and the brewery in a cave on Sandstone heritage trail. We then drove through to an old mining village called Agnew, now a ghost town, onto Leinster, a small town built in 1976, where we stopped for a lovely lunch.

Back in Leonora hitting week 2 we arranged a meet and greet in the CRC building (my studio) for Tuesday 17th October. It was a very successful introduction of this 2nd stage of my spaced 3: north by southeast project with 23 adults and around the 15-20 children popping in and out. It was a great mix of people both of Aboriginal heritage (such as Geraldine and Luxie) but also some new faces like Vicky Abdullah and TomTom (Dennis) Simmons, my artist assistant to be, and many from the community, even some new arrivals.

I made a large roasted pumpkin and chickpea salad and a pasta salad with apple cake and kärleks mums (love nom noms) and introduced my light and language project using bendable LED lights to create a large-scale outdoor installation, and the cyanotype printing technique using UV rays and water as its components, to make an image and develop it, I wanted to deliver a visible, fun and thoughtful project for Leonora that sits between dark and light, light and shadow, the visible and invisible.

By merging new and old technologies my project also engages with thinking about circularity in cultures and how things on the verge of disappearing can become illuminated and brought back. In the language project we will have four Kuwarra words noting North, East, West and South and in-between these we will try and tease out less colonial languages (English) and try to consider heritage both as indigenous and as immigrant through layers of time. Hopefully we will be able to see the breadth of languages within Leonora, still simmering underneath the English.

Following the meet and greet I have organised a few workshops and started working with TomTom my assistant for the remainder of my stay. TomTom is a young Aboriginal man and a great asset to have onboard.

We made all the wooden structures together with help from Gerrit, Elaine’s husband. Tomorrow (Tuesday 24th October) we are holding a light /language workshop from 3pm-8pm.

On the weekend I held a workshop between 2-5pm but it was pretty quiet due to the local election, 37 degrees and car boot trail… a bit of a collision. On Sunday Elaine and I went out bush. We headed to the Terraces / Breakaways and to Lake Raeside, a nearby salt lake. We drove through a big thunderstorm. It was great to get out.

Today (Monday) I have been filming Donna Reid’s painted objects in Gwalia Museum. I am attempting a stop frame animation series that will accompany my interview with Donna who now lives in Adelaide, and to who I am visiting after my stay in Leonora. Donna lived here in the 1970’s and stayed for 12 years after arriving from Nebraska. She and her husband set up the Gwalia Museum and initiated that as a wonderful preservation of different times of immigration in Australia.

I am trying to lay bare the difficulties of working on the ground with no local arts centre in a community that is quite jarring, but simultaneously a place where change could really happen if…If.

This week is jammed packed and hopefully I get to go out bush with Geraldine and Luxie as we spoke about on Wednesday.

Fingers x.

PART 1: WEEK 4 - 7

Due to my encounter and continuous work with the Shire and specifically Elaine Labuschagne, the Heritage Manager, I was able to meet with two women of the Kuwarra language group and part of Wongatha nation - Geraldine and Luxie Hogarth.

Geraldine Hogarth was given an OBE in 2016 for her long-term work in hearing health and language work within her community. This was a ‘happy accident’ as the Shire had planned to put together an exhibition, highlighting Geraldine’s award. However, due to unforeseen circumstances this had been delayed and not yet happened. So, I suggested that that I could help, which helped me to meet and get to know Geraldine and Luxie, her mother as well as Auntie Gay- another elder from the Laverton community.

I worked with Elaine, Geraldine and Luxie organising hours of interviews (week 3-4) that I transcribed and made a selection from, which supported Geraldine’s explanation around her health work, her family history and information of the area and their community at large. This was edited with Geraldine, Elanie and Geraldine’s old teacher Margee. This was then made into a public display in honour of her work, which she wanted to share with the whole community (declaring without her community she wouldn’t have been able to do the work, so the OBE therefore belong to all, not just her). Geraldine is also adamant that it’s about sharing and inspiring, to bring the past forth to strengthen peoples understanding of difference in cultures, about belonging and education.

My last week in Leonora was occupied with working in the Shire office creating a display with images, and texts (from interviews I conducted). The display opened on the 11th November 2016 at the Shire office. It was a celebration of recognition, not just to her work but also to the wider community. That morning a lot of tears were shed. A relative of Geraldine asked me if I couldn’t come to Menzies where she lived, and work on her family history too. I replied that I would love too, but am returning to Europe in a few days. I also said that I was just a tool in this instance, the work was Geraldine’s and Luxie’s, not mine. And I like that. That I can be a tool, a resource to heighten awareness of something I find incredibly important; the impact of colonialism, hidden or rather histories not brought forth as a cause of colonialism, but also an acknowledgement of other knowledge and how that knowledge has survived outside the mechanism of Western science and academia. How learning can take place and what knowledge actually is, and how this knowledge should be included, not excluded. We see things differently through different cultures. There is an inherent understanding of being in landscape and knowing of that land, learnt over thousands of years throughout different Aboriginal communities. And their knowledge was used a lot by white people arriving, especially finding water and gold, nickel etc. and often high jacked by some ‘explorer’.

It’s a display that can inform tourists, visitors and the community about her work and the research into Aboriginal people’s varying language groups (particularly the Wongatha nation and Kuwarra speakers). It creates an open awareness and insight locally and beyond that highlights and celebrates Aboriginal people’s knowledge, work, and different languages across the area of Kalgoorlie, Laverton, Leonora and Cosmo Newbury. This is work made by Geraldine and Luxie developed and researched with the Goldfields Aboriginal Language Centre. Link here

PART 1: Week 3

Monday: I took part of the gathering (assembly) in the school to inform the students that I was doing a second tie dye work shop on the Tuesday, but this time only for girls. This took place at the youth centre Tuesday. Also visited the school to discuss with Art / PE teacher of what I can do in school. Followed a couple of lessons.

Went to buy ingredients for tie dye: Red Cabbage, turmeric and red onion.

Went for dinner with Elaine from the Shire and Gemma a flown in conservation architect.

Tuesday: Went for a walk to the ghost town Gwalia. A hot day. Saw a brown snake. Although it had been killed I am stepping carefully from now on!!

Met with Elaine from the Shire and Gemma who is documenting and reporting on the State Hotel possible restoration (under ownership of St Barbara mine). Was able to access the inside of this old hotel and photographed the old place.

Went back into town to prepare the workshop for the girls. Brought lots of tinned fruit as I am using the tins for another project (camera obscura).

5 girls came to the workshop, all of Aboriginal heritage. They really enjoyed learning about making own dye and using it on fabric. This was my second ACT_belong workshop. Images to follow.

Wednesday: I went to the Medec centre for 3 hours (city link) and met with the women painting in there. I found some great artists in this group that I am hoping to work with at a later stage. I am teaching a couple of them (on request!) the basics of portraiture through drawing rather than painting (as I don’t paint).

In the afternoon an Aboriginal couple came to knock on my door. Samantha and James (not so friendly with my hosts). They are all from different parts and many groups are divided. I enjoyed chatting with them and they were curious about my interaction with Walkatjurra. I told them about IAS and my work/research. James is a brilliant Emu egg shell carver. He brought a whole heap and they are lovely. I bought one egg from him- the one about ghosts. As one of the figures-, which I told him, looks like Edvard Munch painting the ‘scream’. I appreciated that they made contact despite their discrepancies with Walkatjurra. My hope is that I can bring together something ‘outside’ of the current and ongoing disputes that only focus on artistic work rather than political overlaps. We’ll see.

Thursday: I was offered to go to Menzies with Elaine from the Shire. Menzie is a town part of the Shire. It’s mainly a Ghost town but I managed to have a coffee (a nice coffee too) and a cake. It was a mining town for around 20 years and then dilapidated. This had a harsh effect on the aboriginal groups that had to get trained to work for the incoming white people. They had a visual exhibit around town (one street) with cut out metal figures describing the lives of the aboriginal people in and of this town. But at the coffee shop I got chatting to an older couple and it transpired that the woman grew up in Menzies living in the old butcher shop. They had come over to also visit Leonora / Gwalia after seeing the exhibition in Perth that Elaine organised. They were very concerned and worried if I travelled alone. I told them I didn’t as I was with Elaine (the woman who got them to go to visit Gwalia). Small world.

In the information office I chatted with the girl working there and it transpired she is related to Geraldine Hogarth- an Aboriginal woman from Leonora whom won an award for her work on hearing and language. Geraldne was nne of the people I wanted to meet as part of my initial proposal for Leonora. So that was interesting.

Elaine then drove me to Lake Ballard where Anthony Gormely has created 51 metal figures scattered around a salt lake. It was an amazing landscape and I really enjoyed seeing more of the surroundings. One thing one should be aware of coming to Leonora- it is still heavily mined around there. This means strolling out in the landscape, cycling etc. is not so easy as there are many many restricted sites. So unless driving, its very easy to feel ‘stuck’ in Leonora. I have gone out cycling and you have to cycle atleast 15KM to get ‘out’ to access land. This can become a bit dangerous due to heat, sun, road trains and wild animals. So the outings with Elaine have been highly important as part of my journey.

Friday: Geraldine Hogarth won an award based on her work in the community around hearing and language. She donated the medals to the Shire, as she says; “they belong to everyone, not just her”. I really wanted to meet her and have tried and prompt this numerous times without success. Then Elaine told me about a display that the Shire is doing and spoke about Geraldine. So I asked if I could help. Elaine was very happy to introduce me and I had an opportunity to meet Geraldine this very Friday. She brought her mother Luxie to the meeting and we had a great 4-hour conversation, which I recorded and will transcribe. I really feel she offered a much more in-depth knowledge about Aboriginal culture, her own background and schooling and also her relation to the land. We went through a lot of laughter and a few sad things. But I feel that Geraldine and I will talk much more. I will help with the design, the text and getting the display finished before I leave. This should be done and presented on the 10th Nov.

So I got quite a busy schedule the next 2 weeks.

Saturday: I was gonna go to Malcolm dam, something Geraldine spoke a but neither Mauvheen or Kado knew about this gathering and in the end I couldn’t get there. I was also quite exhausted on the Saturday. A day of rest.

Sunday: Elaine drove me out to Darlot country- this is where Geraldine grew up. It’s part of a heritage loop and both Elaine and Geraldine said it’s important that I see the landscape. We also managed to get to the Granites (as part of the loop) and I recorded some stones with low frequencies. We were out for 6 hours so it was quite a long day and around 35 degrees so quite warm. We also found plenty of snake traces. Stepping carefully…..

 

 

 

 

PART 1: Week 2

Week 2 has been dedicated to ‘finding my feet’. Since my project is now not solely connected to the Walkatjurra Cultural Centre but also to the Shire, my responsibilities have also extended. This has had the positive effect of allowing me to meet and be introduced to the wider community of Leonora.

On the Tuesday morning I joined the elderly group at the Information centre. The group consists of women and men who have lived around Leonora for 30 years or more, all of them are white. One woman, was at one point living in Gwalia, the ghost town situated 2km outside of Leonora. Gwalia is a heritage site and is currently being preserved and restored.

On the Wednesday I went to the youth centre to remind people of my presence but also to share fruits that I had at home. We made a big fruit salad and some of the kids told me they tasted pineapple for the first time. There I also met Darcy (Dardawarra), an Aboriginal activist who works to spread awareness and recognition of Aboriginal land right in and around Leonora. He was been given permission to make a sign at the entry of Leonora to spread this message. The sign should be installed the end of October and it probably won’t be without disputes between the three local Aboriginal groups and possibly some of the white population. We have to wait and see what happens after the sign is up!

I arranged to meet with the Walkatjurra Cultural Centre (my hosts) as I offered to help them improve their website to enable easy browsing and present their projects and mission more clearly. I met with Kubi, son of Deeva and Kado who run Walkatjurra Cultural Centre, and his cousin Kyle, both have an interest in web design and online culture. We sat down and discussed what components of the website should be kept and how they should be re-worked. I suggested using WIX, a free website builder that should make it easier for them to update and upload without having to write code. This can make their site more active and cost effective because the updating work can be spread among several people rather than depending on one person’s skills.  After our meeting on Friday, Kubi showed me what he had done and it looked really good and clear.

On Wednesday morning me Kado and Deeva headed to the local school to chat with the Head teacher Mrs Maxfield. Deeva has a project that she has started with the school to fight truancy. I went too to introduce myself and make the school aware of my presence in town and of what I can offer. I have started a quick start project to raise awareness of recycling. I am planning to use bottle tops to create a sculptural piece, but materials are hard to get here, so it might end up as a scarecrow for their garden. During this meeting we also discussed raising knowledge of Aboriginal languages in this area, which is something Kado is very keen on. I am sketching a visual proposal for their newly built fence, its aims to present inclusion and language as a visual tool for knowledge. This might be something to work on during my next visit. I am keen on incorporating all Aboriginal languages in the area.

After the school meeting we then went to visit Kado’s sister-in-law Mauhveen to introduce myself and discuss the possibility of going out bush with the women. We also went to meet with Mauhveen’s sister, Fifi who also works at the school. She has a small animal sanctuary where raises rescued Kangaroo babies. It was great to see her work with both animals and children. Amazing lady.

On the Friday evening I met up with local artist Roderick Sprigg who is starting a podcast from Leonora, focussing on art and culture, He wanted to interview me so we were chatted for a good 3 hours.

On the Saturday Kado took me to the country. We visited Mertendale, an abandoned homestead village for pastoral work, after which we drove to look at a mountain rift that extends a long way through Western Australia. On our way there we saw a huge goanna which I managed to get quite close to and photograph. Late we went to see caves, rock-holes and granites. While we travelled through the land Kado told about the Echidna and Mountain Devil Lizard Dreaming (Tjurkurrpa) which runs through this area. We also looked at archaeological finding such as early tools left behind by Aboriginal people. He also taught me about bush food and a bit on hunting. We picked bush food, a lime green little seed that tasted like pea shoot and pumpkin seed, apparently is full of protein. In Ngalia language its called Lingi-Lingi (might be spelled differently) and in Wongi (which is the name of the native people of this area) tjallpka (might be misspelled).  During our drive home we saw a potato and onion lying on the road. Kado jumped out of the car and told me that when Aboriginal groups go out bush, they often just bring a couple of vegetable which they use as compliment when cooking the bush meat such as kangaroo or goanna. Following that dirt road on our way home we encountered the massive big moon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PART 1: Week 1

I arrived in the Goldfields. I am very jetlagged. The town Leonora is quite small with around 650 inhabitants. It was much colder than normal for this time of year and I was glad I brought my coat. When I arrived at my accommodation it was clear that no one had been staying there for a while. There were mice droppings around and in the microwave an old baby bottle in which milk was turning into a new life form. I guess I didn’t know what to expect, and for sure I did not expect luxury. But my stay in the flat only lasted for a few hours as a pipe in the adjacent kindergarten had burst and flooded the place, which meant there wouldn’t have been any running water for one or more weeks.

After one night with not much sleep, I strolled over to the ‘living’ museum just outside town, an early mining settlement called Gwalia, now a heritage ghost town. After making acquaintance with the Shire and its staff I was offered to stay with one of their employees who had a spare room.

To get me familiar with the youths and their activities, my Aboriginal hosts took me straight to run a workshop in a youth club. Being out in the sticks, the material for the planned tie dye workshop hadn’t turned up. So with 8 kids hanging around I went to the local shop and purchased vinegar, red cabbage, red onion and turmeric for making our own dye. It worked a treat and the kids ended up tasting cabbage and later using its colour to dye their t-shirts. Working with the children allowed me to make acquaintance with some their parents. And the other day a family of five took me out for a ride to see some of the closed goldmines and some creeks. I learned a lot from their knowledge of their surroundings such as how to find gold and differentiate between fool’s gold, real gold, silver and platinum. One of the old open pits has had a lot of ground water seeping up through it and the kids told me they go swimming there.

Over the next few weeks I hope to do a few more workshops and get to know the whole community, and hopefully get to ‘go bush’, as they call it. I want to make myself aware of my Aboriginal host family’s traditions, the Ngalia language and their embodied relation to the surrounding landscape. We have discussed developing a cultural exchange to enhance awareness of the peripheral and its relation to mining, production, technology and at the same time try and keep the sacred secret and nurture respect for the landscape and first nation people. I know I have a lot to learn.

Yesterday I went to the outback races where dressed up ladies and gambling took place amongst the red dirt. Today my house host is doing a barbeque with some of the locals. I am cooking pumpkin. Tomorrow I will order a bunch of pumpkins for a carving workshop with the youth group. And after that I will start my own research, I am planning to collect sounds from different minerals and stones using special audio equipment that can pick up frequencies from geological materials