Gathering Materials

While spending many days helping daluk artists collect materials for fibre forms I shared in the dye making and obtained some dramatic results on canvas. I also began painting at the art centre with delek collected from Maburrinj showing both bininj and daluk my approach to painting animals. On various other trips I took bininj to collect hollow wood for mako (digeridoo), hardwood for clapsticks and fighting sticks and soft woods for mimih carvings. I was surprised how easily and quickly the men could spot the right tree, particularly one that was hollow. It was hard work using udburru (axe) to cut down and roughly prepare each piece, and amazing to see the transformation of a rugged branch into the smooth and meticulously painted wooden works.

It seems clear to me now that it is not only the meaning of a representation that gives a work its cultural significance, but a creative process that begins with gathering materials in places of personal significance to the artist. The object’s material substance has the ancestral power of country embedded within and emanates an aura, a state of becoming entity.

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