Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Truckin in the Alice

We had to go into town to post some things off and for the bank so went in last friday - we normally stay at a place called - on alice on todd where they give us a good rate - there was a big truck show in town so everything was booked out - even the camping grounds - we managed to get a room in a hostel for gary and chris and a dorm for me at a backpackers. It was horrific! the mattress was a thin foam job on a slatted bed which compressed down to nothing when I hopped on. Worst sleep ever - and shared a room with a champion snorer whos snores penetrated my ear plugs.
that was on the friday night were we also met up with Ian which was great! We swapped stories and experiences and despite his hard time with the accommodation situation it seemed like he was having a good time.

After a less than satisfying sleep - gary and chris's double bed turned into a nest with them sinking to the floor with the mattress sides up around the sides - I went to collect my complementary breakfast - 2 bits of bread to be collected from reception and toasted by me. I went to collect my breakfast just before the 8:30 deadline and to check out. There was a que so it was after 8:30 before I was served and then was denied my two bits of bread - which were sitting on the counter all ready to go - as I missed the breakfast deadline. What a stink.

Headed off to get breakfast at the truck show - pancakes!
Chris and Gina at the truck show

There is a transport hall of fame outside of alice and this truck show was a reunion of all these people that are involved in the hall of fame as well as lots of dinners, awards and so on. It was bananas! people everywhere! and from all over. gary and chris's mates had come up from Victoria for it. Good for people watching - but there were also some pretty cool trucks.

Lots of men standing around talk'n trucks

This was a strange truck with the confederate flag....

but then had a floating head of lady di on the side.
That night there was no hostel - we were booked into the Quest which was pure luxury compared to toddy's backpackers!
- The next day we had to pick up some works from a gallery - but there was a truck parade!!

this is Gary snapping away at the trucks.

Only 2 more weeks here - most of the ladies are off in papunya for sorry business so not sure when they will be back - there has been three passings in the community - and as it's such a small community it means that most people are in mourning.

Chris and I are printing and packing the lino cut cards which I'll post up next time. I'm really pleased with how they have turned out!

Last Week

Two Papuna ladies - the one on the right is Topsy
More ladies

Chris and Mavis watching the movie

Chris, Mavis (front) and Susie (on chair)

Kiddie enjoying the show

Well it was a wash out for the passing down of traditions week - we drove over to Papunya to have a meeting in their art centre - men and women were there as well as a film crew. The men sang and played while the women danced - but only for a bit as I think that they felt a bit silly performing in a shed. So the organisers thought that it would be good to show 2 documentaries of the ceremony - one from the late 70's and the other from the 90's or so. The ceremony took place at Mt Winparrku - basically (from what i understood) its a penacne for the people living on the land to pay to the traditional owners - which I think are descended from Winparrku.

Mt Winparrku - about 35k from Ikuntji

Ceremony goes over a few days - you can see it here: http://aso.gov.au/titles/documentaries/jardiwarnpa-blood-brothers/clip1/

basically it culminates in a big dance where the traditional owners dress with conical hats and pelt the people living on the land with big poles of leaves and ash. The other cover themselves with fat to stop the ash from burning them and also make shields from green leaves - its a way to air grievances - as well as for widows to go through the measures so that they can marry again. At the end of it all they give the owners money and things like blankets as a payment.

Everyone loved the bit where they were getting pelted with the ash - all the women were laughing. We then had chops and salad - chops were a bit of a bad idea as many of the people there were lacking teeth and even me with my full set found it hard to manage.

A few determined camp dogs found their way in - but unfortunately they where shooed away and all the scraps were thrown in the bin - we feed the camp dogs our scraps normally as they tend not to get food all the time at home as they are expected to hunt for themselves.

There is a thing happening at the moment where the land council wants art centres to pay rent to the traditional owners - this normally happens with mining leases etc however the art centre is owned by the community - and some of the traditional owners paint with us - so it seems a bit crazy that they want to take money from something that is only run to benefit the community.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back in the Bluff

Ahh, home. Back to the donger and back to the RAIN! It has rained on and off since we got back on thursday - wet and soggy ground.
Gary and Chris's mates Fred and Vicky were travelling around the top end in their Ocka (big 4x4 that is a campervan) - we met up with them in alice on the way up to Darwin - they came out for a visit to the community. Went for a drive or two - tried to get out to this mountain - Mt Winparku - which has an outstation on it but it was looking like a storm so headed home. Cassie for Papanya tjupi has organised a passing down of knoweldge trip - which is a ladies weekend away where there will be singing, dancing and no men allowed! This is supposed to happen today at the outstation but the roads were slipery enough on the weekend let alone after all this rain! So waiting to hear what is happening with that.

Just went through the plan drawers full of works on paper.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ohhh Darwin. This is one of the best places for lazy days with no crowds and good times. It has all the convenience of bigger cities but all the charm of a small city. Ahh, Darwin! Maybe it's just that compared to Ikuntji it's quite cosmopolitan? Who knows.

Anyway - the trip up was LONG! we drove into Alice one night there. Went to a caravan park where gary and chris's mates were staying. Went to the $10 roast there - this place was populated by the grey nomads it was a sea of short grey hair and knee socks. But a good night they had a man with snakes and then a singer with a guitar singing bush songs that are slightly rude and cheeky which is the type of entertainment that goes on alot up here. All good fun. The oldies loved it.

Me at Bojangles pub in Alice

Gary and Chris

Had a big drive from Alice to Daly waters which is a town that was the first international airport in Oz - basically flights coming from asia and Europe had to land here to refuel before heading onto sydney etc. Daly waters consisted mainly of an airstrip and one small street which housed the pub - It had a whole lot of stuff stuck to the walls from previous customers - bras, footy t's bus passes etc. It had collections of bottles, rabbit traps and toilet seats. Paraphernalia is big in the NT. Its like someones old garden shed exploded - like a dirtier crazier version of chillis (a alligator with sunglasses? Number plates in doors!) Had a steak bigger than my face for tea.
The entertainment that night was a man that sung cheeky songs but he had a rooster on his head. That bloody rooster kept me up all night.

The chook man who has a house across the rd from the pub and who was the entertainment. (The one in the blue singlet)
Daly Waters Pub

The performing rooster.

Off early the next day stopping quickly at the thermal pools in Maderanka which were bliss!

Thermal pools

The campervan that ryan will want to hire.

Burning off is a big thing too:

A few little stops for fuel and the loo then Gary and Chris dropped me off at my hostel - I have a private room but shared loo. While most things are reasonable in Darwin - beer, food etc - accommodation is a bit pricey - its not like to gold coast with lots of high rise - (however it looks like this might be how its heading) and by the time I went to book this was all i could afford. Its a bit dodge but ok. I hired a bike to get round which has been the best! Nearly came a cropper this am when some dork opened his door on me and nearly pushed me into a bus - lucky my cat like reflexes and after years of training on the sydney circuit I managed to avoid disaster - .

My darwin ride

We set up for the Art Show on Wed - it was at the convention centre a lovely building that is about 3 yrs old right on the waterfront. The carpark was full of troopies covered in red dust as about 40 or so artcentres from all around came to show their wares. There site is here: Basically it's like any trade show - we were trying to sell works but also establish contacts meet up with other art centre workers and the governing bodies. Also for Ikuntji it was about re-establishing itself as the works that the artists are creating now are quite different in scale and price than before - smaller and more affordable.

So that was really interesting! met some gallery owners from all round as well as selling about a third of the works we took up which will make the artists happy!! (50% of the sale price goes to the artist - 50% back into the centre)

Telstra award opening.
We spent our nights looking at the great places that darwin has to offer. One thing that i noticed was the lack of crowds - They have the darwin festival on at the moment and went to see corrine grant last night in a great open air theatre which was in the main festival precinct. It was decorated with lanterns and lights - amazing - but the best thing was even though it was full - there were no lines for the loo, enough places to sit, great food - normal priced beer and tickets to most of the shows were $25. Compared to syd festival which is of course bigger - it was just relaxed easy and open to all. Nothing is crowded here which includes the wave pool i went to yesterday, IT WAS THE BEST!! - I think this lack of crowds is what makes it so relaxing here. No hussle, no bussle.

Me relaxing at the wave pool. Please note pedicured feet.

Darwin festival. Prettier at night.

So here tonight and leave again on monday for the cold red centre!

Old days at Haasts Bluff

Had another night at the community centre where they showed slides from the early mission days. All our old lady painters were there, as were the kids, the families and of course the dogs. One of the dogs weed on the screen to the cries of Wjyia! Wjyia! Which means in Luritja -no - but also means sort of stop that etc. It's the only word that I have mastered. Must try harder.

The slide show was great some of the buildings show in the slides were still standing. Some of the ladies could see themselves as kids or young ladies in them which was great. We got told stories in both english and in Luritja - they also cooked kangeroo tails on the BBQ. It was pretty special.

Bran Nu Dae

Kids down the front. Occasionally you would see a little hand shadow peep up to pick someone on the screens nose.
More kids
Some cool dudes.

The community hall - which is really a tin shed has movies and events on - there is guy who runs after school programs with the kids - discos etc. We went along to see Bran Nu Dae which was being put on by the health centre as we watched a video about heart disease. There is a lot of problems with health in communities.
I wasn't overly keen to watch Bran Nu Dae but this setting made it wonderful. Everyone was piled in. Dogs and all (me and the dogs have an understanding now and we are on good terms and some of the old ladies dogs will even let me pat them!) everyone in. It was so fun watching it with all the locals. The kids were great and loved all the slapstick. Comedies are always funnier when you are laughing with other people. Most of the older people there were either from the mission days or went to boarding school so found all the references in it hilarious with Geoffrey Rush playing a german priest . (For those who haven't seen it: In the Summer of 1965 a young man is filled with the life of the idyllic old pearling port Broome - fishing, hanging out with his mates and his girl. However his mother returns him to the religious mission for further schooling. After being punished for an act of youthful rebellion, he runs away from the mission on a journey that ultimately leads him back home. IMBD).

Ikuntji Pics

This is at the airstrip where Chris and I do our walks of an evening! Ikuntji is part of a cattle ranch - the owners of the ranch would pay royalties to the locals

Haasts Bluff is the area that we live in - Ikuntji is the camp's name. This is the Bluff. We went for a drive to Papunya - which is our neighbor town. Amazing views along the way.

Another mountain. It's really green due to all the rain!

Wildflowers! All the flowers are out now that its raining.

This is a typical house out at Ikuntji and at many camps, overcrowding is a problem. This house only has one broken car - normally there are LOTs as if a car breaks and you can't fix it it's too costly to get a mechanic out here so there are heaps of broken down cars in the community. There are also a few car graveyards just out of town.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Till august.

It was the first weekend that I have had in Ikunji for a little while as we have had to be into Alice quite a lot to post artworks off etc as the longer rolls have to go via TNT which will only pick up from Alice.
It’s been colder here than in the first couple of weeks – warmer at night but cool during the day so have been trying to get onto doing some works rather than lazing in the sun reading however the last couple of days have been COLD at night – getting down to 1 degree at night. I have an ear ache which I think is from the cold .
Chris and I have been going for a walk every day this week around the airstrip which is a 5 mins drive out of town and then about an hr or so walk around the strip itself. Nice to get out and about and there is a beautiful views from there of the mountains which are ever changing in the light.
The first day we went to the cemetery which is just out of town to have a peep. Ikuntji was an old mission so there were some small graves from the 1900’s of some children as well as fresh graves of some recent deaths. After a death in the community you cant say the name of the person that had died for a year – after that it’s ok. If someone has the same name as the dead person then they have to change their name for the year. The graves are covered in plastic flowers – which the shop sells they are so bright and colourful. When we entered the cemetery Chris mentioned that you have to say hello to everyone in the graves as that’s where their spirits live and when you leave you say goodbye. It’s a very nice way to enter and leave a cemetery.

We have an artist with us Annabel Nolan who is an artist from Melbourne. She is working with the artists in the centre on things such as mixing colours and underpainting and layering. The ladies are really enjoying it. Annabel is sharing my digs in the dongers till firday when she heads back to Alice. Gary, Chris and I start our road trip up to Darwin for the art fair up there!
I’m going to do a lino cut exercise with the artists when we get back to make some cards to sell at desert mob which is a festival in alice mid sept. Will pop some more pics up when I get a chance – as the internet here is satellite its slow also with the blogger my pics always come up in a random order!