Gallery Works – Photo Narrative
In the Footsteps of Stuart
In the Footsteps of Stuart is a photo-narrative exhibition developed over several journeys in Central Australia (and one to England) between 2003 and 2010 which presents aspects of the physical and cultural landscape. Photographs of iconic central Australian landscapes are accompanied by images of my bare white feet where I stood, incongruous on the hot, stoney, prickly, and sometimes muddy, ground. The images are accompanied by postcards home, telling intimate stories of people and place, of evolving understandings.
The exhibition comprises thirty-four sets of images and postcards and has been presented at the South Australian Museum, 2005; Art Gallery of Western Australia–Geraldton Regional Gallery, 2005; Port Pirie Regional Gallery, 2007; Murray Bridge Regional Gallery, 2007; Gallery Kubo-Kuxta, San Sebastian, Spain, 2010; Flinders University Art Museum, Adelaide, 2011. For San Sebastian (Donostia in Basque) all text was translated into Spanish and Basque.
Chambers Gorge – Marlawahinha Inbiri (northern South Australia)
This magnificent galley of rock art is thousands of years old. It’s in Chambers Gorge in Adnyamathanha people’s country, they call it Marlawahinha Inbiri.
I don’t know all the symbolism in the engravings but that is OK. To fully understand another culture takes time and commitment, and you also have to earn the right to knowledge. I am amazed by the antiquity of the human culture here, and how we have the oldest continuous culture in the world. Unfortunately we still do not fully appreciate and respect our Aboriginal peoples and what we have. Just found out that Adnyamathanha literally means ‘rock people of the hills’.
To get to the rock peckings is by a walk along the dry Mount Chambers Creek which gives time to appreciate the country, to approach with respect, and then leave in quiet contemplation. I wonder about the people walking here for tens of thousands of years.
We have so many wonders in our own backyard. Love Gavin
Dear Zofia & Paul,
Gosses Bluff is 160km west of Alice. We first saw it from a distance and its a powerful feature rising from the flat plains. In geological terms it was formed 142 million years ago when a 600m diameter comet hit the earth, forming a crater 20km across. It’s now eroded down to 5km in diameter.
Another story is from the Western Arrarnta who call it Tnurrala. It was formed when the women danced across the sky as the Milky Way amewarra. During the dance a mother put her baby to rest in its turna (wooden carrier). The turna toppled over the edge of the dancing area and crashed to earth where it became the circular rock walls. Amazing how Arrarnta also have an impact story to explain the crater even though it happened millions of years ago.
Its a special place, no camping is allowed and visitors are asked to keep to a restricted area which is OK by me. There is a profound feel to it though, a place to be respected, there is a resonance both geological and mythological. Cheers, Gavin
Queridos Zofia y Paul (Spanish)
Gosses Bluff está 160 km. al oeste de Alice. Lo vimos por primera vez desde una cierta distancia y es un enclave poderoso que se eleva desde la llanura. En términos geológicos se formó hace 142 millones de años cuando un cometa de 600 metros de diámetro chocó contra la tierra formando un cráter de 20 km. de ancho. Se ha ido erosionando hasta los 5 kilómetros de diámetro que tiene en la actualidad.
Otra historia es la que cuentan los Western Arrarnta que lo llaman Tnurrala. Se formó cuando las mujeres bailaban por el firmamento como la Vía Láctea amewarra. Durante el baile, una madre puso a su bebé a descansar en su turna (carro de madera). El carro volcó y cayó por el borde de la zona de baile y chocó contra la tierra donde se convirtió en las paredes circulares de piedra. Es sorprendente cómo los Arrarnta también tienen una historia que trata de un choque para explicar el cráter aun cuando sucedió hace millones de años.
Es un lugar especial, no está permitido acampar, y a los visitantes se les pide que se mantengan en una zona delimitada que por lo que a mí respecta me parece muy bien. Se percibe algo profundo, un lugar para ser respetado, hay una resonancia tanto geológica como mitológica. Saludos, Gavin
Zofia & Paul maiteak (Basque)
Gosses Bluff 160 km-ra dago Alicetik mendebaldera, lautadaren erdian goraturik, eta urrutitik ikusten da. Ikuspegi geologikotik, duela 142 milioi urte sortu zen 600 m-ko diametroko kometa batek lurraren kontra talka egin eta 20 km-ko zabalerako kraterra sortu zuenean. Denboraren joanak erosionatu egin du, eta gaur egun haren diametroa 5 km ingurukoa da.
Western Arrarnta herriak Tnurrala deitzen dio, eta honela azaltzen du haren sorrera: emakume talde bat izarrartean Amewarra izeneko zirkulu batean dantzan ari zela, ama batek egurrezko gurditxo batean utzi zuen bere umea; halako batean, gurdia irauli, erori eta lurraren kontra talka egin zuen harrizko horma zirkularrak sortuz. Harrigarria da nola erabiltzen duten bertakoek talka baten istorioa duela milioika urte sortutako kraterra azaltzeko.
Leku berezia da, ezin daiteke kanpatu eta bisitariak toki jakin batzuetatik soilik ibil daitezke. Oso ondo iruditzen zait. Zerbait sakona hautematen da hemen, errespetua merezi duena, erresonantzia geologiko eta mitologikoa. Ikusi arte, Gavin
Palm Valley – Alyape (Central Australia)
Dear Sue and Trevor
Camped at the entrance to Palm Valley Alyape. Heading along Palm Creek into the Valley proper tomorrow, just glimpses from here. Amazing how the surrounding landscape is semi-arid but there’s this lost world of lushness from antiquity. Almost expect to see a dinosaur rather than a dingo. Nearest relatives of the cabbage palms arrangkeye are at Millstream in northern W.A., which we hope to get to.
Only 16 km from Hermannsburg Ntaria but the track in follows the bed of the Finke River Lhere pirnte and is definitely 4WD, rocky in some parts and sandy in others, bumped around a bit. Tour drivers must get sick of it, quite a slow drive. Ernest Giles first whitefella here in 1872 and called it Glen of the Palms. He was overawed at his discovery. Don’t know why name changed?
Used my new tent for the first time as we had a few drops of rain late afternoon and dark clouds around, didn’t amount to much rain though. So far we’ve been sleeping out or in an insect proof tent. Cheers, Gavin
Stuart’s Grave, Kensal Green Cemetery (London)
Here I am at Stuart’s grave. It’s an unassuming memorial in a quiet corner of Kensal Green Cemetery in London. It was difficult to find the grave, there are no signs indicating its location. His burial in 1866 was a simple ceremony, only a few mourners, no State funeral or fanfare.
I was thinking that if the Aboriginal people had hindered his explorations, or even killed him, it would have delayed settlement of the Australian interior possibly by decades. If he hadn’t found the water and laid the track, history could have been so much different. Aboriginal people were generous in accommodating those strange intruders, only really taking defensive action when they or their land were abused, as when their meagre water supplies were consumed by the expedition’s horses.
My journey is not though at an end, there is more to travel in the areas he explored, I haven’t been north of Alice Springs for over a decade. History and life are strange really, who can imagine where our journeys will lead or end. Cheers Gavin
PS. It was a really creepy cemetery.
Approaching the Irish coast, Dun Laoghaire
Bare Footed – Bare Hearted
Bare Footed – Bare Hearted is a photo-narrative exhibition evolving from a journey to Ireland. Comprising several sets of images and postcards, the work was presented in Celtic Roots, an exhibition by artists of Celtic heritage as part of the Celtica Festival, Port Adelaide.
With a name like Gavin Damien Francis (Joseph) Malone my genetic and cultural DNA is fairly obvious. I am though of this place, South Australia, I started my life in the small country town of Cambrai (known as Rhinevilla until 1917) in the rain shadow of the Mt Lofty Ranges. I was a Mallee Mick, and that dry country is still a comfortable place for me.
In 2008 I visited Ireland as part of a journey to North Africa and Europe. I have no desire to return to many of the European places visited, but to Ireland I do. In County Clare I met and stayed with distant cousins, even after the dislocation over 130 years ago. There has been ongoing family contact and after all that time, there was an easy connection.
There is always much to absorb in terms of understanding the histories of place, there and here, and how that impacts on our contemporary social structures and sense of self. One aspect is that the dispossessed Irish became part of the dispossession here of the Aboriginal peoples. There is still a conciliation to be had, although there has been progress. Stories and storytelling help us better connect with each other, understand ourselves and our histories. Story telling is something the Aboriginal and Irish cultures have in common. The series of images and stories are a small part of my journey when I walked on the land of my ancestors. Here are some. Slanche, Gwelchwyn (Cheers, Gavin)
Atlantic Ocean, Ardmore, County Waterford
Dear Gay, Janne, Kieran, Rob, Brendan and Vincent
My feet are being washed by the Atlantic, too cold for a swim. The beach is deserted; my thoughts drift as I gaze to the sea. It is past here that our ancestors sailed on their journey to South Australia. I’m at Ardmore just along the coast from the port of Cobh, or Queenstown as it was known when named after you know who. Coincidently, I happened to visit a grand (colonising) manor with a toilet built especially for Her Royal Pee ‘n Poo. Cost a bloody fortune to build for an overnight stay. Typical!!
Queenstown was the port of departure for millions. I wonder what sadness, anticipations and fears were held by the potato diaspora, that great forced exodus after An Angor Mor, The Great Hunger. Our ancestors were part of that. Its nearly 160 years now since our great, great grandparents, John and Mary Malone left County Clare in the 1850s, Mary was a Costello. And 134 years since Annie O’Brien, our great grandmother, also left Clare in 1875. She married Martin, their Adelaide born son, in 1882.
I’ve found Ireland to be comfortable and familiar, strange in the sense that we come from the dry country where the arid regions and deserts are part of my habitat. My felt connection is not a nostalgia or romanticism, rather a pervading sense of genetic and cultural DNA. It’s in the food, the folklore, the music, the symbolism; there is a familiarity, if not a comfort. I feel warm in the cold. Love Gavin xx
PS. I’ve been staying with cousin Ted and family, Ailbhe, Éinne and Darach, at Dungarven. They are Irish speaking and it’s beautiful to hear the spoken language. They kindly speak English when I’m around.
PPS. Can you see the map of Australia in the swirl at my feet? No touch ups either.
Killeany Church, County Clare
Dear Gay, Janne, Kieran, Rob, Brendan and Vincent
I’m in the ruins of Killeany Church standing at the grave, located within the church, of our great, great grandparents, John and Margaret O’Brien. They’re buried in the grave of a relative, Honora Neylon, but not recorded on the slab gravestone. I wonder why?
According to tradition, St Edna founded a church on this site in the 5th Century. It’s not far from Cahermerkerla and the family home John O’Brien built in the early 1850s. The house is still in the family and I’m staying there several days. Not something I ever imagined, staying in the house where our great grandmother Annie was born in 1858. Also never imagined I’d stand on the spot a few years ago where the British exploded the first atomic bomb in Australia at Emu. A bit different but still weird.
I wondered at the sadness of John and Margaret losing seven of their eight children to that great exodus after the Hunger. Or maybe it was relief and hope for a better future for them in Australia (as their 300 or so descendants can attest). There’s a human skull a few feet away in a stone nook in the church. As unusual as it is, it seems irreverent to take a photo. Cousin Gabe, who brought me out here, was unperturbed, he thought it would have been uncovered nearby and left there in respect to rest. There are many layers of bones here. Love Gwelchwyn
The Burren, County Clare
Dear Kris and Tim
Went for a half-day walk on the Burren with Brede, cousin John’s wife, and her walking group. It’s a hilly limestone area and because the limestone absorbs heat in summer it’s used for cattle grazing in winter. The area has been occupied for at least 6000 years and farmed since Neolithic times. Still though has the most varied flora in Europe. Has been called the ‘largest and most remarkable rock garden in the world’, plants growing in cracks.
In a brochure on the Burren it is said to be ‘as mystical as Ayres Rock’. Language a bit old i.e. Uluru, but a nice crossover with Australia. It’s O’Brien country, our ancestor’s country, and the Malone’s weren’t from far away. Funny how I’ve used limestone in my own work for all these years. Cultural genetics??
The walk was brisk, it was the Hurling grand final, Waterford, the underdogs, versus Kilkenny, the greyhounds. Views of Galway Bay quickly gave way to views of the match in the pub in Fanore. Great spot by the coast for a Guinness or two (Waterford lost big time). It was the match making festival in Lisdoonvarna last weekend where girls can ask guys to marry them. Looked more like the matching of the camper vans than the couples, they were parked everywhere! I remain unhitched, my tow ball intact. Love Dad xx
Inishmore, Aran Islands
Dear Lexy, Katharine & Beth
I’m on Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands off the coast of Clare and Galway. The saying ‘daylight robbery’ came from here after the introduction of a window tax by the English. Three or more windows were subject to a tax so the houses only had two, along with a door where the top half opened to let in the light and air. The tax lasted for thirty years but the building style lasted a hundred, just in case the English reintroduced the tax!
Came out here by boat from Doolin, one of those tiny Irish villages that traditionally harvests both land and sea. Coast along there and the Cliffs of Moher are a subdued stunning, reminds me of Deep Creek, but with different vegetation.
Galway Bay with the Connemara Mountains in the distance. Going there tomorrow. Parts are bilingual, Gaelic and English speaking. Your bonnie mother’s Donnellan ancestors are from thereabouts. Patrick, your great, great, great grandfather left Ireland in 1866 and married an Irish lass, Maria O’Loughlin, in Kapunda. Love Gavin xxx
PS. Back from Galway. Decided to take a back route along the coast and suddenly all the road signs were in Gaelic. Got a bit ‘geographically challenged’, you know I never get lost. Completely went the wrong way and had to ask directions at a shop.
Departing the Irish coast, Dun Laoghaire