Straya

I could write about this trip for days. But I'll keep it (fairly) short and focus on the piece.

I was really lucky, with the support of #redbulluae and an invite from Vans the Omega to end up in Australia this year for the Wonderwalls Festival. I've grown up with Aussies. Some say I even have a bit of a twang. I've needed to go to Australia for a really long time.

To end up in Port Adelaide was wonderfully random. I'm growing tired of big cities. This certainly was not one. And as a bonus I had two of my oldest, bestest buddies over from Darwin and Melbourne with me.

Before the trip I had done some research on birds that make appearances in The Dreamtime. "The Dreamtime is the Aboriginal understanding of the world, of it's creation, and it's great stories. The Dreamtime is the beginning of knowledge, from which came the laws of existence. For survival these laws must be observed. The Dreaming world was the old time of the Ancestor Beings."

The more I read about the Aboriginals, the more I became really interesting in their place in the Australian narrative and the results of displacement. Something far too complex to get into here, but a topic that's becoming increasingly important to me with the state the world is in and the refugee crisis surrounding us.

The Eagle and the raven/crow. Two characters who seem to be equally important in creation myth though embodying different values. The eagle being the wise, noble, fair, respected character though perhaps a little too regal for my taste. And the raven. The trickster. The one who, yes brought fire to the people, but stole it. The unconventional and creative type who keeps things a little shaken up. I read a few stories where they clash and a few where they learn to co-exist but what stood out the most was their embodiment of different values that are of equal importance in their own right.

I drew up this composition of two birds sort of faffing around all feathery. Pulling apart and coming together and pulling apart and not really finding a position that works for them. But underneath it all, exposing a common, simple heart. As I painted away for 4 days up on the scissor lift, chatted to people who walked by and spent the 2 weeks after roadtripping 2000km back to Melbourne along the coast, I found this really was a bit of a reflection of the relationship between the Aboriginals and the Modern settlers, shall we call them. Maltreatment aside, there was a fundamental difference in values, in how to approach life and chaos and understanding that seemed like a real point of tension. For instance the connection of the Aboriginal people to the earth, to country and the development of the modern world that stood in stark contrast with it. Both parties are both the eagle and the raven. And both parties do inevitably underneath it all have the same, beating heart.

Of course there's a lot more to it. But sometimes it is about the bottom line. About zooming in and zooming out and zooming back in to find that fundamental bottom line and trying to work from a common ground. I hope people can look past the past, and past and the points of difference and disagreement and find a way to work together for common welfare as the world becomes an increasingly challenging place to live in.