Saturday, 15 October 2016

Barrangal Dyara by Jonathan Jones, Royal Botanic Gardens

Kaldor Public Art Projects, with artist Jonathan Jones, have celebrated the 200th birthday of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney with a thought-provoking, multi-dimensional project called Barrangal Dyara

In 1879 Sydney hosted the International Exhibition. 
A specially designed building was erected on the edges of the Botanic Gardens to house the exhibition. It was grandly called the Garden Palace.

Tragically the Garden Palace and everything inside was destroyed by fire in 1882.
Stored inside was a huge collection of Gadigal artefacts of cultural and historical significance.

Over a hundred years later, Jones went searching for some of the cultural material from where his family came from. He discovered that most of it was destroyed in the Palace Garden fire.
The sense of loss and forgetting around this event spurred Jones on to find a way to reconnect and understand what happened here.

Perhaps the fire was a kind of cultural burn, regenerating the site for future generations."

The project put together an information booklet for visitors.
In it Jones said,

"as I've worked on the project, the garden palace has become a symbol for the repercussions of forgetting. So many people I've spoken to about the project hadn't known the history of this enormous building that once dominated Sydney's skyline both physically and conceptually. I've begun to question what else we can forget as a community, if something so grand and visible and spoken about has disappeared from our vision. Aboriginal communities have often been the victims of Australia's ability to forget. In this way the Garden Palace became a fault line in the nation's memory, which has enabled the project to bring to the fore other forgotten histories."

Barrangal dyara means 'skin and bones'.
The project consisted of three components - a native meadow of kangaroo grass, thousands of white shields and several soundscapes.

The four different types of shields marked the boundary of the original building.
They also "echo the expansive rubble that remained after the fire."
These shields are "void of unique markings or personal designs, speaking to the erasure of cultural complexities through collection."

The exhibition ran from 17th Sept - 3rd Oct 2016.

My first visit was three days before the official opening.
The crew were still laying the finishes touches to the design.

A week later, I returned to see what all the fuss was about.
But it rained.

So I ducked into the State Library across the road instead.
One of the exhibitions they had on that day featured some paintings from the era of the Garden Palace.

Garden Palace by JT Richardson

It was obviously a dramatic, unforgettable event.
Yet it was forgotten.

When the rain cleared I tried again.
It was difficult to take in the whole design.
Strange angles jutted out, creating spaces that made it hard to see what was inside and what was outside.

As I walked around the large space that was, once upon a time the Garden Palace, the soundscapes followed me. Eight language groups recorded words, songs and sayings to "reinstate contemporary Aboriginal voices into the landscape."
It was a haunting, yet joyful experience.

No matter how much I walked around the space though, my imagination could not take in the whole.
It was too big.

Until I spotted the picture below in the newspaper a couple of days later.
From Time Out Magazine
Finally I felt the full impact of the work!

But I also realised that I had missed the third component - the kangaroo grasses in the very centre of the building where the dome rose up the skies.

"Aboriginal agriculture in the south-east of Australia saw grasslands cultivated and harvested over generations, supporting many nations and diverse cultures. Seeds were transformed into flour to produce bread with grinding stones. Controlled fire was an important tool in the development of these grasslands, and here it acts as a dual metaphor."

So I returned the following week with Mr Seasons to take in the whole thing - shields, voices and grass.

If you'd like to learn more about this project as well as view some of the installation photos please visit their blog here.

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Buildings of Balmain

Walking around the streets of my suburbs these past weeks have netted me some great pics of local homes, shops and streetscapes.

I hope you enjoy this glimpse of Balmain terraces and churches.

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Botany Bay and Port Botany

A recent afternoon drive took us around Port Botany along Prince of Wales Drive.

Port Botany, is situated on the northern side of Botany Bay.

It was the original home base for the Kameygal (spear clan). 
They were part of the Eora language group. The Kameygal were custodians of this area for about 5000 years prior to white settlement.

Watkin Tench in his 1788 Diary noted,

'On the northwest arm of Botany Bay [the Cooks River] stands a village, which contains more than a dozen houses, and perhaps five times that number of people; being the most considerable establishment that we are acquainted within this country. The huts occupied by this clan of about sixty people live near the outlet’.

If you'd like to read more about the Eora clans that inhabited the Sydney area, the State Library's Indigenous collection produced this fabulous pamphlet in 2006 called Eora: Mapping Aboriginal Sydney 1770-1850.

On the 29th April 1770 Captain Cook landed in Botany Bay, near Kurnell (or Kundul - as the Gweagal (fire clan) called this area at the southern end of the bay).
Botany Bay - La Perouse headland on the left, Kurnell on the right & a big storm front to the east!

On the 18th January, 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip arrived in Botany Bay to establish a penal colony. After a few days he decided that there was insufficient fresh water for a settlement, so he moved the fleet north to Port Jackson (Cadigal country) on the 26th January.

On the same day, the French scientific expedition, led by Laperouse landed in Botany Bay. The two French vessels and their crew stayed for 6 weeks. 
Both the English and the French offered to help each other with supplies. 
Laperouse fortunately sent some of his journals, charts and letters back to Europe with the First Fleet ship, Alexander, as he and his crew were not heard of again after they set sail from Botany Bay on the 10th March. 
The north eastern headland of Botany Bay is now named La Perouse in his honour.

Port Botany is still a working port. 
It's Australia's second largest container port.

We enjoyed a dramatic, pre-storm sunset at Port Botany.

Seagull strutting along Banks Wall.

At the southern end of Prince of Wales Drive, is Molineux Point.
This area commemorates the Sydney Ports sister relationship with Yokkaichi Port Authority, Japan. The monument was officially opened in March 2001.

Molineux Point Lookout
This post is part of Saturday Snapshot

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Blackwattle Bay

My youngest season plays soccer over the winter months. His home ground is Wentworth Park in Glebe. The only thing that separates our home from the park is Blackwattle Bay and Anzac Bridge.

When the weather is fine, I like to walk to the game. 

It takes about 45mins if I go across the bridge and about an hour if I walk around the bay. 

Both are scenic and interesting and provide lots of photo opportunities! 

But I prefer the bay walk - less traffic and more greenery.

And plenty of different views of the Anzac Bridge!

Blackwattle Bay was a working harbour full of timber mills and ship-breaking yards. 

In 1969 the Glebe Society was formed to create access to the foreshore for local residents. It has taken them 40 years, but they now have four beautiful parks to their credit - Jubilee, Federal, Blackwattle Bay and Bicentennial parks.

They have kept a crane and some of the old machinery as memorials.

The old timber mills reclaimed mud flats and mangroves swamps to house their yards.
The mangrove swamps quickly became putrid - full of industrial waste and sewerage.

The current sea walls are far more lovely and make it much easier to enjoy the foreshore, but they (& the earlier pollution) have changed the ecosystem of the bay tremendously.

Two years ago, Sydney Uni devised a flowerpot system on the seawalls to encourage rockpool activity once again in the area. See my original post here.

The project has been so successful in re-introducing 28 species of marine life back into the bay, that they have continued the scheme around more Sydney seawalls, including those in Farm Cove and Elizabeth Bay.

Near the Blackwattle campus of Sydney Secondary College, they're also working to re-establish some saltwater mangrove trees. Eco-engineering is the new growth industry around the foreshore!

The Glebe foreshore is also trialling a new bee pollinator habitat.

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot