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Top left: Workshop delegate’s spontaneous design, Corporate man ;-) 1997 Top Right: Illuminating Aboriginal ancestral design, Warlpiri man ;-) Bottom left:

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Presentation on theme: "Top left: Workshop delegate’s spontaneous design, Corporate man ;-) 1997 Top Right: Illuminating Aboriginal ancestral design, Warlpiri man ;-) Bottom left:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Top left: Workshop delegate’s spontaneous design, Corporate man ;-) 1997 Top Right: Illuminating Aboriginal ancestral design, Warlpiri man ;-) Bottom left: 'Kabbalist' Amulet design, North African Man ;-), anon. Bottom right: Workshop delegate design, CEO Man ;-) 2000 Net-Walks "Ritual provides the main context for learning about the meaning of art, and shows that the construction of meaning is an active process. Some instruction is given to people when they are seated at the men's ceremonial ground, or when they are making paintings for commercial purposes or being shown how to do a painting by a relative. However, the main context for learning is through participation in ceremony, where people learn how to perform songs and dances and how to do paintings. People observe who produces which paintings and the context in which they are used; (for example) they learn to do the yellow ochre dance when it is being performed for a particular purpose, and they see how a ground sculpture is used in a particular way. Meaning is built up over time, and what is learnt in one context about an object can quickly be applied to other contexts and objects. It is possible to learn about paintings as maps by walking around the landscape; it is equally possible to learn of the significance of particular features of a painting or a landform by seeing them danced out, sung about or enacted in some other way. Aboriginal art is learned behaviour that comes alive and gains a purpose in the context of the present. And in this way ancestral experience is incorporated in present experience while simultaneously underpinning it." Aboriginal Art, Howard Morphy Summary of content: -) A Wavering Truth. SNIP PS, You are a fine poet – so are your feet “Longfellow's?” Peter Beamish, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland Net-walks

2 'That truth in which all intellect finds rest.' Dante. Fragments to shorten the long. An infant died in Gurka'wuy on Trial Bay, Eastern Arnhem Land, in the country of the Gumatj and Marrakulu clans. The child's spirit home was in its own Mardarrpa clan country 100kms away. - The objective of the ritual was to move his spirit from Gurka'wuy to Gunmurruytjpi. -To be accomplished by calling upon the ancestral beings that created the areas bridging the land between the two. -Each place associated with particular ancestral songs, dances, and painting. The form is the 'restored behaviour' of ritual, resources upon which people can draw. - Participants in this ritual select from particular places on the journey and so organise them in a sequence to move the 'body' from a to b. A dance is then performed from a place, a series from another, a painting will be made from a third, a ground sculpture from a fourth and so on...-Many alternative routes could be taken. In the case of the Mardarrpa child the choice was between the coastal route or the inland route, the latter being chosen. Decisions like this are based on multiple factors; to whom the dead person is related, who offers to take part in the ceremony, which groups decide to stay away. It is thus an affirmation of friendship, also trust since it involves using one's own spiritual powers and restricted knowledge on behalf of others. For the Mardarrpa child the journey began with a dance led by Yama Munungurritj that represented the yellow ochre ancestors from Yarrwidi Gumatj nearby at Gururrga Bay the site of a big yellow ochre quarry associated with the child's clan, the Mardarrpa. The ancestors were portrayed walking along the beach searching for yellow ochre deposits. They dragged their digging sticks behind them and held sacred woven-string dilly bags gripped between their teeth. Every so often the dancers would stop and dig the sticks into the ground, representing ancestors levering up bits of ochre which they tested the quality of by rubbing on their own bodies. The highest quality ochre happened to be found in front of the shade where the child's body lay; through this enactment the ancestors found the child's spirit, which would them commence it's journey.

3 The dance allowed the anger and pain felt at the child's death. The dilly bag gripped tightly in the mouth was not simply for collecting the ochre; it contained the anger and anguish of the bereaved. The journey then unfolds itself through time space as macrocosm and microcosm, implicate and explicate. - A 'key' component was provided by the coffin lid. Among the many designs that could have been chosen in this case it was one that belonged to another clan grounded on the journey at a place about half way on the spirit's journey; the painting represents a place on the Gaargarn River where the waters flood in the wet season and where a fish trap is set up by blocking off the stream, it represents in its details the fish trap at Gaargarn: the diamond patterns signifies the raging torrents of the wet season floodwaters over the site of the fish trap; streamers of weeds extend from the limbs of the freshwater tortoise and mark patterns on his shell. In songs and dances the participants referred to the same floodwaters carrying the coffin on its downstream journey and onward to the great snake who swallowed it and took it to the coast. This was the snake whose ribs were used, in turn, to make the fish traps in the ancestral past. Finally the journey ends at the graveside when dancers acting as crocodiles 'buried' the child in the crocodile's nest, for it was from the crocodile at Gunmurruytjpi that the child's conception spirit had come. 'Each element woven in a complex way into the whole, yet each existing independent of it's context to resonate in the minds and memories of those taking part.‘ For those confused as to the relevance of such a contribution in this virtual place may I offer off the 'top of my head' the article in The Dance of Change 'Moving Upstream from Measurement' H. Thomas Johnson. pp (A man who IMHO moved his own river and so may yet shift a mighty nation from another kind of slumber from which it is not yet, quite, too late to awaken itself.) But you will all and each be the best judges of that ;-) But for those with a disinclination to read backwards, sideways and maybe even forwards this might make it plainer. " Perhaps Johnson was resonating with this point when he said that 97 percent of what matters couldn't be measured and conventional measuring was tampering: manipulation without genuine understanding. He seemed to recognize that many of our deepest frustrations come from an inherent sense of the natural way of life, lost in the process.“ Lost in the process...Mmmmm. With Care, Andrew Campbell


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