Paruku, Desert Lake

Blog 5 The Paruku Project 4-22 August 2011

Blog 5 The Paruku Project On Monday 8 we arrived in good time to set up camp for everyone, prepare the ochre coloured grounds on 60 canvases and cook a big dinner for the 10 visitors in our group in camp that night.

Tuesday was our first day working in the Warruyanta Art Centre and a steady trickle of artists flooded in as soon as Jacinta Lulu opened the doors to start preparing the art centre. Kim had discussed with everyone that this was an art, science and story project and I discussed this idea with them again and showed them reproductions of the Warrukun collection which John Carty had recently co-curated and explained that we were keen to ask the artists to paint history paintings with stories about Country, both old time stories and new ones, to create a point of difference and make paintings to fit into this project.

Shirley Yoomarie painting “Working with scientists” Photo John Carty

Our main painters over the two weeks were Megan Boxer, Shirley Yoomarie, Launa Yoomarie and Daisy Kangah who prodced a couple of canvases each. Hansen Pye, Veronica and Jacinta Lulu, Anna Johns, Magda Matthews, Chamia Samuels and Dolores Bridgeman also painted. Many children and teenagers dropped by to paint also.

On the Friday the rangers and Guy were able to collect some fresh grasses for weaving when they visited the Blue Tongue Dreaming site and Chris Curran and the rangers collected scrap metal and wire from the dump. He and David Leece then helped the weavers fashion the metal into armatures for the weaving with found materials, and grasses. Anne Ovi, Karen Lulu and a few others immediately took to this idea and it leaves a lot of potential for Faye and Fran to work on next year in April we hope. The Warruyanta artists have plans for a large installation work.

Anne Ovi with weaving grasses. Photo John Carty

Tuesday afternoon we all returned to Handover site with many of the Walmajarri TO’s for a major Welcome to Country ceremony, conducted initially in the main bough shelter at camp from where we processed by foot and vehicle for the elderly, to the Lake’s edge. Chamia and Bessie sang out the traditional song for the Country and firstly the men were lead by the Walmajarri elder men including some of the younger men from the community who had missed the ceremony before, into the water to be liberally smeared with mud and water, then the women were lead in by the women. It was a deeply moving experience for us all.  We then returned to the camp for tea, sandwiches and so Bill Doonday could narrate and sing the Two Dingo Dreaming and Falling Star Stories for Paruku.

To conclude the ceremony, Gill Taylor presented us all with beautiful blue woollen vests and beanies produced by her clothing company “Natural Instinct”, with “Desert Lake, The Paruku Project” embroidered on the breast. The Rangers were especially taken with theirs and declared themselves “Power Rangers”

Photo David Leece