Singing Country by Lisa Harms and Georgina Williams


SINGING COUNTRY prelude

 Ngankiparinga | Women’s River | O­­­nkaparinga

Nganki-paringa (Onkaparinga) The Women's River—its hidden, ancient, gorges once a refuge, sheltered bodies warmed by the sun;  its once-pristine sheen, lit by reflected moonlight, stars, echoes-spirits-singing; rich and brimming with life; its periodic ebb and flow to-the-sea—for thousands of years the custodial responsibility, and reflection, of Aboriginal Women (Nganki) singing songs of the water; for the water; from the water.

  SINGING COUNTRY... bringing together NGANKI (women) on/for ‘country’ 

 … mending, moving: from the mouth of the river at Port Noarlunga (Southern Kaurna/Patpa Yerta); the banks/ranges/cliffs/dunes; the scant stands of remnant vegetation, scrub; the springs; the swamps cleared-drained-over-taken de-spoiled… spirit-places

This project will offer a window into an ancient way of understanding—and caring for—'country'... an Aboriginal understanding in which singer-song-and-country become one, in the place of their creation, where:

. . . the ancestors first sang . . . their journeys across the land . . . the word land “being too spare and meager. We can scarcely use it unless with economic overtones, unless we happen to be poets" (Irene Watson quoting Bill Stanner, 2002, 27)

 Decades of “sorry business” (grief and colonial trauma) are tied to the fact that colonialism, from the earliest pastoralism up to recent mining developments, agriculture, and urbanization, has inhibited Aboriginal people from protecting… country… The incapacity to care for country contributes to the cycles of Aboriginal trauma and loss. (Watson, 2009, 34) 

As my ancestors walked over the land, they walked in the law. Today it is difficult to walk that law in a carpark [playground; sweat-track... cycle-path; over-taken by private housing; highly constructed landscaping; and public amenities] that lie... on your ancestors’ graves or in a derelict and toxic mine site that has replaced ceremonial and gathering places where songs were sung across the land. (Watson, 2009, 44-45)

In the upstairs gallery at Hahndorf Academy June-July 2017 a video and sound installation will be assembled. This exhibition—a prelude—will draw on research currently being undertaken to support SINGING COUNTRY—a long term program-in-development reviving the connection of women and girls to water and song led by Senior Narrunga/Kaurna women, Independent Artist, Performer and Producer, Waiata Telfer—with custodial mentorship from Ngankiburka-mekauwe (Senior Woman-of Water) Georgina Williams, Traditional Owner and Female Elder Clan-to-Country Custodian Narrung’Kaurna Yerta (country). 

 Here: collected objects, contemporary beaded sculpture, video and sound-recordings will come 'into conversation' with archived ‘colonial’ images and citations (from the State Library of South Australia and the National Library's online digital archives) to make a poetic 'timeline'… 

calling for a reservation: of space, silence; calling for re-generation; care, repair; calling for song. 

 

Watson, Irene, 2002. “Kaldowinyeri - In the Beginning.” Looking at You, Looking at Me: Aboriginal History and the Culture of the South East of Australia, Vol. 1. Nairne: Watson.

 Watson, Irene, 2009. “Sovereign Spaces, Caring for Country, and the Homeless Position of Aboriginal Peoples.” South Atlantic Quarterly 108:1, 27-51.