The in-progress body of work Baaba and Miimi are both part of the broader project, Looking Through Windows (LTW); a touring, interactive, multimedia exhibition exploring the removal, dispossession and ‚Äòprotection‚Äô of Aboriginal people under NSW government‚Äôs Aborigines Protection/Welfare Boards. It captures memories, stories and experiences of life under the Act – stories of mission and reserve days, school days, station/domestic work and stories from Stolen Generations. While a window to the past, the works are a portrait of the Elders from this generation and the stories of these people today. The LTW team, brought together by oral historian Dr Lorina Barker, has been continuing its engagement with community in New England/North Western NSW over the last two years, primarily working in Brewarrina, Bourke, Armidale. This project was born out of Film Through 1000 Images and My Grandmother‚Äôs Country in western NSW. LTW engages the whole community, especially the families of the 5 major language groups in the New England region, the Dunghutti, Anaiwan, Kamilaroi, Gumbaynggirr and Banbai and groups from Northwest NSW including Ngemba, Muruwari, Gamilaraay, Kurnu-Baakindji, Burrabindja as well as the descendants of the Wangkumara, Kooma and Kundja people from southwest QLD who now reside in Bourke, Brewarrina, Weilmoringle, Enngonia and surrounding communities. Communications with different participants, audiences and visitors has, and continues, to be culturally appropriate and sensitive to the needs of individuals/groups. LTW is not a static installation. It is a fluid, culturally appropriate space, providing community members an opportunity to view artworks and be involved in art-based workshops, oral histories, filmmaking and theatre performance. The works, Baaba, the word for father and Miimi, the word for mother, in Gumbaynggirr represent and acknowledge the important role they have as wise and knowledgeable cultural leaders, who connect people and Country. The practice of working with these people is a collaborative process between myself and them. All work is shot using black and white film in 6×6 medium format. A slower way of working. The process involves more time within that physical space; it is a moment, a pause, a consideration. Both bodies of work are in progress, with opportunity to develop a deeper portrait of these Elders. There are spaces I have been invited in to, both be a part of and also record with the camera. These are unique, quintessential moments of cultural appropriation. Adaptions of Aboriginal cultural practices to life today. The barely-legal humpy out the back of Uncle Colin‚Äôs place, edging as close as it can to the original Mission site. The Aunt‚Äôs playing bingo with their special numbers to raise funeral funds for a family member, or gathering down by the river to collect ochre. The Uncles want to go emu hunting; like a Lovo it’s slow cooked in a hole covered with gum leaves and stones, the twist is the use of corrugated iron as the cover, along with bark for installation. The Aunts are the ones to take us egg hunting; both dependant on time of year. These are but a few pockets of the surface Baaba and Miimi has entered, ready to be recorded and shared. These spaces reveal contemporary Aboriginal cultural practice. While the scope of LTW is sparked through memories and past experiences, there has been an incredible opportunity and connection sprouted within these communities and their Elders. Some of the portraits suggest the opening into the essence of not only the person, but life and Country in a contemporary sense. With further time spent in these places the works of Baaba and Miimi could delve deeper into the core of the everyday, deep knowledge of place and connection with culture. The funding would be used to enable this journey to continue and resolve in a completed body of work.
Curated by Sandy Edwards, Arthere
Beth Macraild O’Loughlin’s photographic practice draws upon the history of the medium within a contemporary context, seeking to refocus the attention of photography’s relationship with acts of remembrance and memory. This gives the medium a greater capacity to evoke the past and ignite contemplation. O’Loughlin recently completed her Honours in Photography at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University achieving First Class Honours and an Award for Academic Excellence. Prior she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Tasmanian School of Art in Hobart through UTAS and was inducted as a Golden Key member. Currently she lives in Armidale, NSW where she is developing her alternative photographic experience before completing further postg
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