Adam and I set up an echidna, two white cockatoos and a magpie with the help of Steven on Tony’s farm. Our daughter Tepi had a wonderful time chasing Blondie the dog on adventures, one of which ended in a frantic search for her. We found her crying at the top of the hill a bit sunkissed and missing a sock. The farm is green after all the rain, but sheep now struggle against grass seeds in the eye and flies armed with maggots. A forest of thistle now surrounds the shroud site and the tree is healthier, thick with leaves.
On the same day I saw and collected one dried and one fresh white cockatoo body. The white feathers and yellow crest matching the delek pigments collected in Maburrinj. I placed the fresh bird in the freezer, and placed the dried one in metho. The latter had the sweeter smell of the drier stages of decomposition. Its body cavity is exposed, especially at the back, but its front, with its skeletal face and full crest in tact are what I wish to paint in my current work featuring the currawong.
I am currently working on the Currawong shroud from January 2010 (refer to post). I began surrounding the stain with a nest created by painting delek in the negative space between the woven sticks. I stopped midway thinking I would like to define the currawong shape in a subtle way using silken thread stitches. I had been inspired last year by the brightness of silken thread amidst naturally dyed thread in the Indonesian/Malaysian tapestry on exhibition at the NGA. The result was more than I had hoped for, while being delicate and fine, as expressing care and refinement, an illusion was created of another plane. This was due to the assumption the shape was stitched on. The process of stitching is very intensive, the piercing of cloth ground at times smooth through a ready opening in the weave, or difficult when blocked by tightly woven threads. I thought of explanations of central Australian sand painting in Balgo in Piercing the Ground by Christine Watson, which I am currently reading, and also of my time as a tattooist. The woven body covering akin to skin.
This exhibition is not to be missed, a rare and valuable opportunity to see the dolobbo (bark) and djurra bim (paper paintings) produced by a painter who also produced kunwarrde bim (rock paintings) in the ancient way. His family were proud and informative at the opening, his grandchildren having produced a mural painting featuring his most familiar motifs in honour of his rock painting, bringing its familial significance to the city of Sydney.