David Leece

Paruku, Desert Lake

Desert Lake, art, science and stories from Paruku. Blog 13

Mandy Martin Gaining permissions Warrayunta Art Centre Photo David Leece DSC_0161 (74)

Desert Lake Project April 2012

The final big group trip to Paruku to work with the Walmajarri participants in the Desert Lake project, was another marathon event. Storm systems hovered around the Tanami Track but we managed to avoid heavy falls even though there were dramatic lighting displays far away to the north east the first few nights camping at the Lake.

Photo: Mandy Martin

Two new project members joined us this trip, on left, Tom Lynch, a writer and English Literature Professor, University of Nebraska Uni and right, Jocelyn Davies, Geographer, CSIRO ecosystem Sciences. (also left to right; Pirate the dog, Kim Mahood, Steve Morton and Faye Alexander)

The were several main tasks for the trip including seeking signed permissions on all the draft written and photographed material in the book.

Mandy Martin and Warruyanta Art Centre artists. Photo David Leece

Basil Hall, Basil Hall Editions, Darwin, had posted the 11 editions of screen prints in the Desert Lake folio, the art work for which had been painted on the August trip and the prints all needed titling, numbering and signing.

Jacinta Lulu and Mandy Martin, signing prints. Photo David Leece As usual all hands were on deck and everyone including the artists and scientists multi-tasked, helping screen print logos onto the new project shirts and in the photo below, Tom Lynch and Steve Morton, took it in turns “fixing” the logos with the iron while David Leece signed prints with Veronica Lulu.

Photo Mandy Martin The Warrayunta artists responded enthusiastically to Faye Alexander’s sculpture workshop. She had collected found metal materials and objects from the Mulan dump, and around the community and brought wool and fabric scraps from op shops in Alice Springs as a starting point to construct flowers.

Photo David Leece Faye worked, with Tara Lecke assisting and in this photo also Jessica Armson, the new Art Center coorindator.

Photo David Leece Meanwhile scientists, Jocelyn Davies, Guy Fitzhardinge and Steve Morton ran exhaustive interviews with the Paruku Rangers, Mulan Councillors, artists and members of the community, the new IPA coordinator and the Mulan Community CEO to discuss community resilience and how different people saw the future. This culminated in a full gathering at Handover site where we all discussed “Ways of Seeing Paruku”. Excerpts of this will become our final “Coda” for the book. The Handover meeting just happened to coincide with the Broome representative from the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Craig Creighton and the Balgo Art Centre coordinators, visiting the community. We were able to demonstrate that Warrayunta Art Center are engaged in a big project and in good shape to benefit from AGWA assistance to be part of an extensive proposed AGWA Kimberly project.

Rob Cossart, Department of Water, Western Australia and Rebecca Dobbs, Freshwater Ecology Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, University of Western Australia, joined us from Kununurra at the end of the week to continue their on going research work. It was a holiday mood when we all went out to the Lake for a Welcome to Country for our newcomers and then a big fishing/ parasite sampling afternoon.

Photo David Leece

Rebecca Dobbs and Paruku Rangers. Photo David Leece

Rebecca and Rob and the Paruku Rangers worked with the women who literally hauled in the fish and as they did so they were analysed for nematodes and the results were recorded on the cyber-tracker.

The general consensus was the fish had far fewer parasites than the last survey and the women were very happy with their haul, the good fish being a great Friday meal. We drove back to Mulan across the vast grassy flood plains, staggered at the number of horses thundering past placid brolgas feeding in the long afternoon light.

Faye and Kim stayed on for another week to respectively continue the sculpture workshop and the signing of permissions. The rest of the group started the trip back home. Deadlines for the book loom and the artworks for the exhibition are all being photographed now by Mike Gillam in Alice Springs and the text is nearing completion. Mandy martin and Laura Boynes have just spent 4 days constructing a story board and editing hours of film and audio down to a 27 minute rough cut of the film. Permissions will be cleared on that hopefully in August and then Macquarie Bank editing studio will take the finished DVD to high resolution.

The film, book and website will all be launched with the first exhibition at Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs, 1 March 2013.

Mandy Martin May 2013

Paruku, Desert Lake

Blog 10 The Paruku Project 4-22 August 2011

Blog 10 The Paruku Project Thursday we had our wrap up day with the community and it started with more painting at the archaeology site for the men.

Guy took our visitors to see some of the horse damage and also the huge colony of brolgas feeding at the south end of the lake. He then had a meeting with some of the local people to find out what plans were in place to deal with the horses.

Kim and the visitors then went to the school for more work on the mapping project with the older kids while all hands were on deck finishing artwork and acetates at the art centre.

Events were held up for quite a while in early afternoon by a brown snake crawling into the underbody of the Store manager’s vehicle, bringing everyone to standstill while suggestions were made about how to get the snake out. The snake after a dosing with the hose wasn’t budging but eventually dropped out and was dispatched of course!

Warruyanta Art Centre, Mandy finishing studies, David taylor downloading film and photos, John Carty and Bill Fox cataloging artworks. Photo David Leece

Preparing for show and tell, Mandy finishing studies, David Taylor downloading photos, John and Bill finishing exhibition spreadsheet and catalogue of works. Photo David Leece

The afternoon concluded with the beautiful Pelican Dreaming Dance lead by Hanson Pye, Bill and Bessie Doonday and Chamia Samuels singing the narrative with a microphone. It was a stunning and wonderful way to finish our working trip to Paruku. Everyone then processed around the art centre and gymnasium to look at the art work. There were warm farewells and promises to return for a final week’s work in April when all the art works and ranger work is more evolved.

A mad wrapping session then happened so that we could take as many finished works as possible to show to curators and for safe keeping for exhibitions. I have never had such a highly qualified team of art wrappers, for which I was really grateful. This was followed the following morning by a mad packing session as we left camp and started our long respective trips home.

Paruku, Desert Lake

Blog 10 The Paruku Project 4-22 August 2011

Blog 10 The Paruku Project Thursday we had our wrap up day with the community and it started with more painting at the archaeology site for the men.

Guy took our visitors to see some of the horse damage and also the huge colony of brolgas feeding at the south end of the lake. He then had a meeting with some of the local people to find out what plans were in place to deal with the horses.

Kim and the visitors then went to the school for more work on the mapping project with the older kids while all hands were on deck finishing artwork and acetates at the art centre.

Events were held up for quite a while in early afternoon by a brown snake crawling into the underbody of the Store manager’s vehicle, bringing everyone to standstill while suggestions were made about how to get the snake out. The snake after a dosing with the hose wasn’t budging but eventually dropped out and was dispatched of course!

Warruyanta Art Centre, Mandy finishing studies, David taylor downloading film and photos, John Carty and Bill Fox cataloging artworks. Photo David Leece

Preparing for show and tell, Mandy finishing studies, David Taylor downloading photos, John and Bill finishing exhibition spreadsheet and catalogue of works. Photo David Leece

The afternoon concluded with the beautiful Pelican Dreaming Dance lead by Hanson Pye, Bill and Bessie Doonday and Chamia Samuels singing the narrative with a microphone. It was a stunning and wonderful way to finish our working trip to Paruku. Everyone then processed around the art centre and gymnasium to look at the art work. There were warm farewells and promises to return for a final week’s work in April when all the art works and ranger work is more evolved.

A mad wrapping session then happened so that we could take as many finished works as possible to show to curators and for safe keeping for exhibitions. I have never had such a highly qualified team of art wrappers, for which I was really grateful. This was followed the following morning by a mad packing session as we left camp and started our long respective trips home.

Paruku, Desert Lake

Blog 9 The Paruku Project 4-22 August 2011

Final crew

Blog 9 The Paruku Project Breakfast campfire. Photo David Leece

Paruku mob around campfire Handover site. Photo David Leece

Wednesday we farewelled Basil from camp then David Taylor took Bill Fox, David Leece and Kim Mahood for a fly over the lake and Sturt Creek. Kim apparently was very excited seeing the island in the middle of the lake and the salt pans from the air, a long held dream for her.

David Taylor and Guy then flew Basil on to Broome to connect with his flight to Perth and eventually Canberra. They saw some pretty amazing country from the air but missed a big day on the ground at Paruku.

Kim had prepared a 5 panel canvas with a projected image of the section of Parnkupirti Creek where an archaeological exploration had unearthed an ancient stone core in 2008. We all assembled with the Walmajarri artists at the archaeology site where after some initial excitement because the rangers had just killed a death adder, and had set fire to the spnifex all around us, we settled down into long discussion about who should paint the canvases. It was decided it was a men’s painting and all the men trooped off with the canvases and art materials down the gully, leaving all the women to discuss skin groups and have a cup of tea. We all then headed back to our respective studio spots to paint in the cool, for the day. The men returned after a huge day, much later on. Work continued for the next day at the site and then late into the night before we left.

The Rangers and all the visiting men witnessing the Parnkupirti painting.

Photo John Carty

Paruku, Desert Lake

Blog 8 The Paruku Project 4-22 August 2011

Blog 8 The Paruku Project Sunday was a big expedition to drive around Paruku and a vehicle headed off soon after breakfast and arrived back by dusk, Bill Fox had his poet’s hat on that day especially as he contemplated circumnavigation. Guy wanted to see where most of the cattle were and get an idea of horse numbers. David Leece and I battled with the tricky wind which seems to spiral around the lake , arriving every half hour or so and whipping all our canvases and paints up in the air. Hansen was not the least bit surprised about this, the handover site has a spiral wind dreaming, it seems.

All the art team were on deck early helping on the Tuesday morning to speed Basil through finishing the burgeoning number of print acetates and also to assist Basil print “Desert Lake, The Paruku Project” logo onto100 orange bandanas which David Leece had bought on ebay.  David then set the ink by ironing them, despite the growing heat!

David Leece tying bandanas on weavers. Photo Mandy Martin

On Tuesday afternoon the last of our party arrived, (also project donors), they had flown to Broome, then hired a vehicle and driven out through Fitzroy Crossing and Hall’s Creek. They arrived with lots of fresh lettuces and tomatoes and other supplies so were welcome in every way! After briefly showing our visitors the artwork in progress at the art centre, we took them out to the Handover site to settle them into camp.

The Traditional Owners once again arrived and we had tea under the bough shelter and then promenaded to the lake where the Friday and Tuesday arrivals were welcomed to Country.

Hansen Pye and Chamia ran the ceremonies and we were humbled and happy to be given skin names. This caused much discussion and at times laughter as names were chosen for us and we stood to repeat and accept them. Once again Gill closed the ceremony by giving everyone orange bandanas!