Wardandi Boodja, sculpture that speaks

Wardandi Boodja, Bunbury Foreshore, Western Australia

In the last couple of years I’ve noticed, along the coast of Western Australia, there has been a focus on making art accessible to the community, and in particular sculpture, one of my favourite art expressions.

I have driven past this sculpture, Wardandi Boodja, on the Bunbury foreshore many times and as many times, photographed it.  There is something very powerful about the sense of ‘connectedness’ this sculpture conveys.

The indigenous culture of Australia is one of the oldest in the world and deeply connected to land and sea.  The indigenous people regard themselves as custodians of the ecosystem.  In all the photographs I have taken, this picture reflects this wisdom in his eyes.  It comes alive when a glint of sunshine, visible only if one is lucky enough to see the light, speaks of this.  The artists Alex and Nicole Mickle consulted with the indigenous people of this region, who decided they wanted the sculpture to represent all families in the face of an elder custodian.  He is not one person, but all.  There is power in this statement, alone.

The sculpture is enormous at 5.5 metres high and weighing 4.2 tonnes of steel, yet it has the lightness of being and, despite being placed alongside a children’s playground, the stillness of silence.  Most of the children who come here to play are too young to read the poem.  And, unfortunately, most adults read their hand held screens these days.  If one lifted one’s gaze they would read what the sculpture speaks to:

Sand and water and time move through our fingers;
damp from the sea, the land clings to us –
salty and healing.
Slow down and listen to that whisper in the trees,
slow down.
Listen to the ancestors, bworan moort, keepers of the land
singing to the silvery kwilena
They leap and call.  Hear them –
they have come to play,
come to listen.
Swim, koolangka, chase the seagulls, laugh in the clean air.
See, where serpent rivers swirl into brine,
where maali dip long necks in living water.
Step gently here.
The earth is under our skin,
and Wardandi boodja keeps a warm fire burning.

NOTE:  Bworan moort: Old people/ancestors; maali: swans; kwilena: dolphins; koolangka: children (original citation found at http://www.brag.org.au)

This is my first contribution to Sculpture Saturday and I’m pleased to share my part of the world with you.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to Sculpture Saturday – Week 7


Message in a bottle

Even though the year has not yet ended, I still believe one of the highlights in 2019 for me was the experience of ‘Boorna Waanginy:  The Trees Speak’.  A Festival of Perth light and oral history of land of the Noongar people played against the backdrop of tall gum trees was a memorable experience.  I’ve written about it in another post.  You, too, can experience it by watching the clips on You Tube.

The walk was Ikea-like.  One way until you reach the end.  As the crowd of thousands flowed through Kings Park we pooled into a magical garden where glowing glass bottles hung from tree limbs and branches.  The garden was tucked away and the soft glow emanated a feeling of intimacy, a oneness.  On closer inspection, each lantern was labelled.  This was a place of awareness.  A place where knowledge was shared.  The labels identified species that are threatened.  The flora.  The fauna.  Voices of those impacted and witness to environmental change  conveyed their testimony of what was and is not any more.  For me, the intimacy was real.  One was lulled by the beauty of the place.  It would have been easy to become complacent and just enjoy the moment.  Until the message in the bottles spoke louder.  One had to respond.

Today I’ll reflect on this.  How can I make a difference?

May you, too, choose your path mindfully today.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to Word of the Day Challenge: Glass

Oneness: ‘The Trees Speak’

It’s been an eventful few weeks but the highlight has got to be one of the Perth Festival events, Boorna Waanginy – The Trees Speak.  The roads to our central park in the city, Kings Park, were closed so people came by special public transport or like us, parked a distance away and walked several kms.

In the warm, dark night we moved towards the park, like rivulets that grew into tributaries finally joining at the entrance forming a human canal that flowed almost silently for 1.5 kms.  The remarkable thing was that although there were thousands of people, most were silent, including children who were entranced by what we saw and heard.  Some folks even moved on to the lawns, lay down, eyes closed and meditated.  Magic night!thumb_IMG_4215_1024.jpgThe tall gum trees were canvas to the stories and biodiversity of the six Nyoongar seasons and shared through the eyes of the first people with the intermittent haunting sounds of the didgeridoo that made one catch one’s breath.  There’s a short clip on You Tube that’s worth a look for the full effect.  (My pictures don’t do the event any justice).thumb_IMG_4235_1024.jpgWe walked through ‘burning’ forests where new growth takes place best.thumb_IMG_4279_1024.jpgThrough gardens of anemones that floated above us, a wondrous underwater canopy.thumb_IMG_4285_1024.jpgAnd watched fish swim up trees.thumb_IMG_4296_1024.jpgI loved the shadow drama of hunters and gatherers that made people stop and stare in silence.thumb_IMG_4329_1024.jpgAnd the forest walk where …thumb_IMG_4330_1024.jpgEndangered plants in lanterns lit up the night.  A sobering thought.thumb_IMG_4340_1024.jpgAnd finally resting our weary feet at the theatre where messages of conservation were communicated on a gum nutthumb_IMG_4343_1024.jpgby children and indigenous elders .  The audience was rapt.

I’ve never been in such a large crowd of people and yet experienced something so intimate.

The take home message was clear.  Oneness.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird