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.