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…..