ORANGE REGIONAL GALLERY NSW - 2018
It is a pleasure to see StarPicket installed in our main exhibition space at Orange Regional Gallery. This fine exhibition is the culmination of years of preparation by Aleshia Lonsdale and Phoebe Cowdery and all the artists involved.
By creating personal interpretations of these experiences, they show us how genuine engagement across time and cultural divides is itself a kind of wayfaring, through which we make sense of the world and acknowledge those who came before us.
When Phoebe Cowdery and Aleshia Lonsdale brought the concept of the exhibition to us in late 2016, I was immediately drawn to the opportunity to support the generation of new work by the participating artists, many of whom are based in the Central West.
I’d like to congratulate and thank Aleshia, Phoebe and the other twelve artists for realizing this project and sharing their vision with our audiences. StarPicket also wouldn’t have come to fruition without the supporting vision of Create NSW, Regional Arts NSW and Arts OutWest.
The central idea of inviting contemporary artists to respond to Indigenous traditional owners’ and elders’ interpretations of the night sky is at once elegant and complex. There is an initial poetic response to the idea, followed by a need to take seriously the cultural challenges presented by an ambitious project such as this.
Orange Regional Gallery and Orange Regional Museum
People across the world have always looked to the night sky to find meaning and direction.
At Mungo National Park, the artists were involved in visiting significant cultural and historical sites, where they were briefed by knowledge holders, exchanged ideas and stories about the night sky and collaborated on creative ideas.
Knowledge systems from cultures across the globe attempt to interpret the world around us and have provided cross cultural meaning relating to the physical and spiritual realms. Indigenous stories developed over millennia have been passed down through oral traditions providing direction for daily life across the sacred and the secular – from when to hunt and gather, social structures and navigation to cosmology and explanations of life beyond death.
The Mungo field trip enabled artists to gain knowledge about sky stories, cross cultures, seasonal farming practices, flora and fauna, travel routes, geomorphology and mapping.
StarPicket is the result of a multi-form arts project initiated by the CORRIDOR project in 2015. Curators Aleshia Lonsdale and Phoebe Cowdery invited 14 regional and metropolitan artists (including the curators) during 2017 to participate in workshops involving soundscape and astronomy facilitated at the CORRIDOR project, Cowra. This valuable extension of professional practice was furthered by a fieldtrip to Lake Mungo in June 2017, with artists investigating sky navigation with relevance to cultural meaning, history and geomorphology.
Fourteen artists – eleven regional and three metropolitan undertook field-based research and cultural exchange, visiting the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri, Paakantji, Ngyiampaa and Mutthi Mutthi peoples.
In response to the experience the artists developed new work encompassing installation, painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, ceramics, assemblage, and soundscape.
StarPicket is aimed at providing artists with collaborative experiences providing participatory dialogue between Indigenous and Western world views of the earth, sky, time and space with a view to developing their own visual narratives.
StarPicket has provided a platform for artists to come together to share knowledge, stories and ideas in a cross-cultural exchange while interpreting and developing new work. The resulting collaboration and information exchange between knowledge holders and artists both on country, and in subsequent gatherings was a strength developed in the project. Each artist has produced new works which challenge and excite the way in which we define the night sky and interpretations of relationships to people and country in new ways.
We would like to thank the artists for their dedication and studio production that has led to an inventive dialogue of expression and conversation culminating in an exhibition at Orange Regional Gallery.
Many thanks to our principal supporters: Regional Arts NSW led by CEO - Elizabeth Rogers, Create NSW - Augusta Supple and Melodie Gibson, Arts OutWest - EO - Tracey Callinan, Trevor Leaman, Virginia Hilyard, Larry Towney, CEO of the Mudgee Land Council - Tony Lonsdale, Friends of Orange Regional Gallery, De Salis Wines, and Orange Council + the CORRIDOR project - Dylan Gower.
Special thanks to Director, Brad Hammond and the staff at Orange Regional Gallery.
Thank you for your support, we hope you enjoy the exhibition.
Aleshia Lonsdale and Phoebe Cowdery
We would like to acknowledge the Wiradjuri, Paakantji, Ngyiampaa and Mutthi Mutthi people and communities that assisted us on this project.
Circumnavigating stars that have no shame
My art is an ongoing visual memoir called The Wattle Room and each exhibition is a chapter of my life. My art circumnavigates life, poetry and playing with the eccentric realities of how I observe the world.
Intuitively I paint and sculpt colourful abstract environments using mixed media and found objects that invite the viewer to move into the space that demands attention like a veritable visual puzzle.
For StarPicket I have made diary like drawings of my ongoing thoughts and imagery whilst at Lake Mungo and an expressive painting/sculpture constellation of varying elements, which investigate Western pastoral history intersecting with Aboriginal traditions. There I learnt that the Aboriginal people saw the landscape and night sky as holistically interwoven, two expanses of shared equal weight.
Through this observation I want to convey the feeling of western cultural values pursuing the dreams of rural aristocracy, challenged by isolation and lack of holistic understanding of the land-scape they found themselves in, of whether they were in the right place as they identified themselves to be.
image copyright: Genevieve Carroll 2018
“ I draw a line...”
The Lake Mungo region is an ancient landscape where you feel very keenly a sense of time. All around you are references to thousands of years of Indigenous history, culture, beliefs and storytelling. At the end of this long Indigenous timeline we also nd evidence of more recent European settlements, many now relics, ruins and rust.
I want my Lake Mungo work to evoke the feeling of being present in, and slowly moving through the landscape with references to the horizon line, silhouettes and the shimmering mirage of distant country. There is both a sense of loss and a sense of possibility to be found within the isolation of this in nite landscape.
The realisation, in the sand dunes that your tracks leave an immediate record of your path through place and time is at rst unsettling and then reassuring. Even when lost within such vastness you are somehow always ever visible. While you only catch glimpses of animals in the dunes you become part of the drama of the fox stalking the rabbit or lizard by the contact you have with the marks they leave behind. Emu tracks criss-cross the dunes as well, like some kind of animal compass faithfully leading you to food and water.
My experiences both lived and learnt come together in these Lake Mungo artworks. I like the notion of the “boundary tree” in Aboriginal culture used to mark the edge of country and the Dreamtime story of the seasonal “following the emu” through the night sky, marking a time of plenty.
In making these paintings, drawings and sculptures I have combined and layered these rich Indigenous symbols with European concepts used for navigation; horizon lines, distance, spirit levels and compass points. This combination of ideas and the gritty tactility of my materials expose the quiet solitude of my vision.
Medium: mixed media
image copyright: Jaq Davies 2018
We are living in a dangerous bubble where our society is struggling to interpret and understand its relationship with nature on the only planet we can inhabit in the entire universe. In all directions we see disconnection and exploitation in the face of obvious collapse and decline in the natural world. ie the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem in extreme crisis with 60% coral bleaching (also known as dead reef) in the last two years alone. This is a major natural system collapse if ever there was one!!! Our atmosphere has concentrations of CO2 ranging upward of 400 parts per million when climate scientists predicted that climate models became extremely unstable, dangerous and unpredictable at 350 ppm. Which ecosystem will be the next to take a rapid decline?
Aboriginal Australia spent 50,000 years gradually altering the environment of this continent without buggering up the whole place. Star and sky stories chart cultural journeys both aboriginal and western. Can we chart a future that will nurture us all?? The connection and re ection of the earth into the sky may hold greater meaning than we thought. We now have the ability to observe ourselves from out there in the universe and record our journey. What a story that will make!!!!!!
Medium: breglass satellite dish, steel post segments and acrylic paint
Medium : breglass sattelite dish, cockatoo feathers and acrylic paint
Medium: breglass satellite dish, bones and acrylic paint
image copyright: Ken Hutchinson 2018
As a photographer, my role is usually to ‘create’ images. Arriving in Mungo, I realised that the landscape demanded a di erent approach.
Mungo is inherently spiritual and innately beautiful. It is a place that commands your attention and you quickly realise that the role of the ‘self’ needs to take a step back.
This quite observation allows appreciation of meaningful elements of the landscape to be revealed; the texture of the sand, the drama in the light, and nature’s own representation of the indigenous ag - all symbolising the enduring indigenous connection to this precious land.
I aimed to capture the reality, to let the beauty speak for itself without my interference. Therefore, apart from some minor overall contrast and saturation adjustments, these images are not retouched in anyway.
Medium: 6 x A4 photographs
image copyright: Vicki Skarratt 2018
Sky culture, cosmology and relationships to land pathways, can be defined through familial, anecdotal and historical translation by di erent cultures. Heirloom investigates cultural meaning, memory and divested objects that are bequeathed from one generation to another, both within one’s own culture and others.
Like a Chinese whisper, star maps, navigation and agriculture practices can become distorted and lost through oral and written accounts giving rise to dissociation and altered meanings.
Heirloom explores how information, myths and beliefs are interpreted and passed on from knowledge holders, with reference to my own cultural ancestry, translated by familial anecdotes, sense, sound and oral history. The Lake Mungo field trip has inspired my process for Heirloom in defining seasonal cyclic relationships between earth, land and sky.
Medium: steel, ceramics, Hahnemuhle photo rag, organic material, acrylic paint
image copyright: Phoebe Cowdery 2018
The warp and weft of the wire structure represents the fabric of the landscape and sky scape. The continuation of sand to horizon and beyond inspire me in it’s beauty.
Also the white clay sewn onto the ‘fabric’ is reminiscent of sun bleached bones, where as the forms suggest Mungo’s pinnacles and turrets.
Medium: steel and ceramic
Under the same sky
Referencing ‘Zanci’ homestead and farm culture intertwined in Mungo’s ancient landscape, all peoples living with the same sky overhead regardless of whether they were original inhabitants or settlers.
Medium: metal tins, mirror and ceramic
"in aeterunum" (forever)
The night sky has various meanings to cultures around the world.
The numerous language groups across Australia also have varied sky stories which play an important role in our cultural connections, social structure, oral traditions, and cosmology.
This work focuses on one of the many stories around the life-cycle of living things.
The celestial and terrestrial are interconnected planes which we travel between on our never-ending life cycle.
Death is not the end but rather the start of a new journey to the sky world where they return to the spirit pool until their rebirth.
Medium: installation – mixed media (earth, string)
image copyright: Aleshia Lonsdale 2018
My Heritage-My Story
Even though I have limited knowledge of the sky and its stories it has always intrigued me, ever since I was a child, which is why when we go for drives around our beautiful Wiradjuri country it is the skies that capture my imagination. After living here for nearly 32 years that inspiration has never waned.
I long to know the stories that my Wiradjuri ancestors would have known as did their ancestors before them. Sadly, along with all that was taken, the stories and language too disappeared. My gures that oat in the sky in each panel tell of my ancestors, tell of the skies that change with the seasons but yet never change. The sky is a constant, like the land we live on. It moves always but still, at its heart, remains the same. We, as people, come, we live, we grow and then pass, the cycle repeats over and over again as the sky watches over each and every one of us. As it has done for eons and will continue to do.
I have chosen to paint my stories with individual panels to show my Wiradjuri heritage from Yebomel, who was born in Wallerawang in the 1820s and who would have had the dark skin of her traditional people to her descendants who, through inter racial marriages, gradually developed lighter skin. Yebomel’s rst language would have been Wiradjuri. I, as her very light skinned descendant, have learned to speak some of her language and in that way, am honouring her and sharing her voice that was silenced many skies ago.
image copyright: Nyree Reynolds 2018
Looking into the night sky has been a human gesture for centuries. In the stars relationships can be seen to seasons, availability of foods, navigation, layers of narrative history, stories and change. Such readings have been second nature to indigenous people for thousands of years and later to other cultures.
Growing up on a farm in Western NSW, the stars were rich and dark. The Milky Way, Southern Cross, Orion and the Evening star provided strong connection to where I was placed in the world and gives me a sense of belonging to the Mallee and Ironbark country of my birth. I remember the feeling of gravitas that I experienced when “The Emu” was rst pointed out to me. A beautiful, dark and elongated gure I now always search out on the blackest nights.
Camping under the stars in the Mallee, often with family and later on my own with just the company of a horse, the “stars” had a strong presence. We would spend evenings immersed in them watching, talking and wondering, often waiting for the possibility of catching a glimpse of the occasional falling star. The chance of making a wish against a falling star still represents a beautiful optimism.
For me, falling stars are connected to my past, present and future. In the “past” it connects me to the country I grew up in and a sense of time stretching out; in the “present” to the sense that we have just a momentary glimpse of life and its desires; and in the “future” it is all about possibility, beauty and the prospect of deeper understanding.
For me Falling stars can be seen as connections between self, earth, sky and culture. My work is based on falling stars, portions of the Milky Way and other constellations. I would like to give homage to the sky astronomy of the Wiradjuri people, the traditional custodians of the country I was raised in and love.
Medium: ink, pastel, wax, chinagraph and emu feathers on paper
image copyright: Heather Vallance 2018
Let the stars pick it...
Australia is an ancient country. It’s geological, biological and human histories stretch far back in time. The rocks of the Yilgarn and Pilbara Cratons in Western Australia are some of the oldest on Earth, formed during the period of time known as the Archean, a time when the hellish volcanism of the early Earth began to subside. This may not appear to be ideal conditions for the birth of life, but recent studies of rocks from the Yilgarn Craton have found evidence of the formation of life 4.1 billion years ago in the early oceans, amid lava and meteorite bombardment.
The Panspermia hypothesis postulates that life exists throughout the universe. This life finds a vessel in asteroids, comets and meteoroids and travels unimaginable distances through the dark fabric of space to find a new home amongst the budding oceans of a young planet.
When it comes to the question of “Are we alone in the Universe?”, we have two options. Either our planet is one of infinitely many that have fostered life and given rise to limitless variations in biology, or the Earth is an invisible dot in an infinite universe, providing a home to the rarest of all elements.
Either option is both terrifying and wondrous. Medium: ceramics
image copyright: John Daly 2018
Explores the poetics of sky sounds drawing on the soni cation of light through early 20th century cinema technologies of optical sound.
Constructed from eld recordings made at Lake Mungo and audio extracted from found 16mm lm, Sonic analogue will be experienced from a listening daybed - an in- between space - installed in the gallery, welcoming visitors to spend time with these sonic immaterial sculptures of time and conjured space.
Medium: optical and digital sound, cane daybed, headphones, mp3 player
At Lake Mungo, and the historic Gol Gol station, I found a pervading sense of there being traces of long ago events. Events both human and cosmological, have left indelible and sometimes mystifying artefacts that reward the informed and circumspect observer.
My use of the antiquarian process of tintype photography, which renders an image in de-posits of silver nitrate, is also an artefact of distant stellar events. By this I mean that recent studies have determined that silver, along with other heavy metals, has it’s origin in exploding supernovas long ago in deep space.
Medium: photography wet plate collodion, tintype and ambrotype
image copyright: Bill Moseley 2018
Moments in time and space
I have been exploring moments in time and space for a while now, and was very excited to be asked to participate in the Lake Mungo trip. While in Lake Mungo I and two other Aboriginal artists were taken out onto the 3 lakes by the Aboriginal guides, they took us to the archaeological digs that had been excavated over the years. Being able to stand in footprints made by my own people thousands of years ago, made a profound and emotional spiritual feeling in me. A thousand hours may have passed by me, but for me it was a moment in time and space. Our ancestors grasped the concept of time and space and the transfer of spiritual feelings. Through my photographs I want to create the actual being of time and space.
“It was like the whole moment in time had just swept by me while I was standing still.”
The Dreamtime is the past, the present and the future. I am a political artist who suggests impressions on paper or canvas. I’m always searching for a feeling, an emotion, to capture a moment so the audience can feel as emotional as I do. Presentation is everything, like layering a cake, whether it is a single layer or multiple layers. Each piece has to t perfectly or the viewer will not be able to breathe in the whole experience. I am creating storylines in Moments in Time and Space creating a place in history for my time to exist through my photographs.
Medium: photography and site responsive collaboration with Vicki Skarratt
image copyright: Irene Ridgeway + Vicki Skarratt 2018
Time and Place
A collaborative work with model and stylist, Irene Ridgeway
Drawing strength and inspiration from the palpable sense of time and history imbued in the landscapes of Mungo, I wanted to ascribe that sensation through this work. In doing so, I needed to include elements of the landscape and references to both the old and new of a culture in existence for more than 60,000 years.
The transgression of time is illustrated through the movement of a ghostlike gure through the landscape. A contemporary sense of culture is provided in the form of an imposing Indigenous woman. Strong. Independent. Resilient. Most importantly, resilient - reminding us that our Indigenous culture is de antly assured into the future of this country.
Medium: photographic inkjet print on Archival paper collaboration with Irene Ridgeway
image copyright: Lee Wynyard 2018