—17 August 2019
—1 December 2018
—17 August 2019
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For the ACP’s annual ‘In dialogue’ 2019 two Indigenous artists, one Australian the other Canadian, communicate their histories of European colonization.
James Tylor (Possum) explores Australian cultural representations through his multi-cultural heritage, which comprises Nunga (Kaurna), Māori (Te Arawa) and European (English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Iberian and Norwegian). In Kaurna language, Turalayinthi Yarta means ‘to see yourself in the landscape’ or ‘landscape photography’. The Turalayinthi Yarta series was taken by Tylor over a two-year period as he walked sections of the 1,200 km long Heysen Trail, parts of which trace the boundary of Kaurna lands across the Mount Lofty Ranges.
In painting over the photographs with ochre, pipeclay and charcoal the artist is embodied within these ancestral spaces. His use of traditional language and design also honours the many Nunga nations of this area, including Ramindjeri, Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna, Peramangk, Ngadjuri, Adnyamathanha, and Nukunu lands. The carved and painted artifacts included in the series are potent in their activation of the Nunga people’s intellectual, spiritual and physical connection with yarta, or Country.
Being born into the heritage of both Canadian Plains Cree and migrant British and Dutch has shaped Meryl McMaster’s relationship to the environment. Her awareness of time also comes from this melding of diverse cultural approaches – one linear and extending in both directions from the present, the other recurrent and cyclical.
The series As immense as the sky features sites on the central and southern Canadian Prairies. Through the use of photography and performance the artist has reconnected with her ancestors and introduced herself to the land they inhabited. The elements of the environs, birds, beasts, and foliage have emerged from the narratives of the landscape to embellish her poems and images. While the rain, clouds and pale light on the horizon emphasise fleeting changes over an ageless terrain.
Dans le contexte de notre exposition ‘En dialogue’ pour 2019, nous réunissons deux artistes autochtones, l’un Australien, l’autre Canadienne – les deux se penchant sur l’histoire de la colonisation européenne de leurs peuples respectifs.
James Tylor (du peuple Possum) explore les représentations culturelles australiennes par le biais de son patrimoine multiculturel qui inclus les peuples Nunga (Kaurna), Māori (Te Awara) et européens (Britannique, Écossais, Hollandais, Ibérique et Norvégien). Dans la langue Kaurna, Turalayinthi Yarta signifie ‘se voir soi-même dans le paysage’ ou ‘photographie de paysage.’ La série Turalayinthi Yarta fut captée par Tylor au long d’une période de deux ans alors qu’il aurait traversé certaines parties de la piste Heysen, piste qui trace les frontières des terres Kaurna traversant la chaîne Mount Lofty.
En peignant sur la surface des photographies avec de l’ocre, de la terre de pipe et du fusain, l’artiste s’est incarné dans ces espaces ancestraux. Son utilisation de langage et de motifs traditionnels honore les multiples peuples Nunga de la région, y inclus les peuples des terres Ramindjeri, Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna, Peramangk, Ngadjuri, Adnyamathanha et Nukunu. Les artefacts peints et sculptés inclus dans cette série représentent l’incarnation des liens intellectuel, spirituel et physique du peuple Nunga avec yarta, ou, le Pays.
Sa descendance d’un patrimoine Cri des Plaines et d’immigrants britanniques et hollandais auraient formé le rapport établi entre Meryl McMaster et l’environnement. Sa compréhension du temps provient aussi de ce mélange de diverses perspectives culturelles – la première proviendrait d’une perspective linéaire qui s’étend du présent vers ces deux directions, l’autre perspective serait cyclique et récurrente.
La série As immense as the sky propose des sites des régions du sud et du centre des prairies Canadiennes. Par l’utilisation de la photographie et de la performance, l’artiste se reconnecte avec ses ancêtres et s’introduit dans les paysages qu’ils auraient habités. Les éléments qui forment cet environnement, les oiseaux, les animaux et la végétation, émergent de ce récit du paysage pour embellir ses poèmes et ses images. Tandis qu’à l’horizon, les nuages, la pluie et une pâle lumière suggère la nature fugace du changement sur ces anciennes terres.
James Tylor (b. 1986) lives and works in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.
Through his photographic practice, James Tylor examines the loss of Indigenous cultural identity in contemporary Australia. Combining drawing with analogue and digital photographic techniques Tylor’s practice also includes historical photographic processes, such as the daguerreotype and ambrotype, used to document Indigenous peoples and the European colonisation of the continent. Tylor further experiments with contemporary techniques of colouring, tearing and scratching the prints, incorporating elements from oral histories and archival research.
In recent works, Tylor has created and photographed culturally hybrid versions of tools, shelters, and other significant objects that reflect his own diverse heritage, which comprises Nunga (Kaurna), Māori (Te Arawa), and European (English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Iberian and Norwegian) ancestry. Central to his practice are the histories of colonisation and migration and their profound impact on Indigenous cultures and relationship to place and spirituality.
Tylor has exhibited in the United States, France and Germany and across Australia at institutions including Tandanya National Indigenous Cultural Institute, Adelaide; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Artspace, Sydney; 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney; Bendigo Art Gallery; QAGOMA, Brisbane; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne. His work is held in public and private collections in Australia, Aotearoa (New Zealand), United Kingdom, United States, France and Italy.
Meryl McMaster (b. 1988) lives and works in Ottawa, Canada.
Multidisciplinary artist Meryl McMaster works predominantly with photography, incorporating the production of props, sculptural garments and performance into images that transport the viewer out of the ordinary and into a space of contemplation and introspection.
McMaster’s work has been included in exhibitions throughout Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, Washington and New York; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto; Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis; Ottawa Art Gallery; Institute of American Indian Arts Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe; McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg; Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon; and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
McMaster’s work is featured in public collections within Canada and the United States, including the Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa; Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis; the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, Washington and New York; Ottawa Art Gallery; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Gatineau. McMaster is the recipient of the Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award, the REVEAL Indigenous Art Award, Charles Pachter Prize for Emerging Artists, the Canon Canada Prize, the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, the OCAD U Medal and in 2016 was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award.
As Immense as the Sky series, 2019
The way we experience the passing of time shapes our relationship to and understanding of our immediate world. My awareness of time comes from an overlapping of two distinct approaches – one is that of a linear path that extends in both directions from the present, and another one that is recurrent and cyclical. This intersection of world views has been part of my upbringing, a result of being born into a family both Indigenous (Plains Cree) and Western (British/Dutch).
Contemplating time and the countless cycles of life that have recurred around the ancient mistassini (monoliths), sputinas (buttes), wiyacahk (canyons) and ayeakow awacha (dunes) of Canada led to the development of As Immense as the Sky. These thoughts left me in a state of wonderment, but also stirred within me a fearful apprehension of our permanent and collective impact upon our beautiful world.
To confront this fear, I sought wisdom in the places of ancestral life, listening to the truths of relatives, Elders, friends and peoples who have traversed this land before me. At the social, cultural and environmental contact zones of my Indigenous and European ancestors I set out to study and collect their knowledge and to animate and re-tell it in a personally transformative process through photography.
– Meryl McMaster
The oral traditions among North American Indigenous peoples are many. Each culture has stories that tell about the beginning of time and everything subsequent. They are stories about the land and all that takes place upon it.
These stories are about all our relations. They are our identity. They are passed down orally. European history in the Americas, on the other hand, is told differently. Their stories are about events based on key dates. This is how we’re taught in school.
But it is the story Indigenous/settler relations that is significant.
Europeans arrived in different stages beginning with the Norse about 1,000 years ago, landing in what is now known as L’Anse aux Meadows, on the northwest shores of Newfoundland. They didn’t set up permanent settlements. Five hundred years later in 1497, the Italian Giovanni Caboto sailed to the eastern shores of Newfoundland. Not long after several European countries began sailing to North America and later setting up colonial settlements, importing their people along with historical disputes. While in North America different European nations set up alliances with different Indigenous peoples. Such alliances were often trading partners. Indigenous peoples were still considered equal in terms of power. Such relations were solidified in Peace and Friendship Treaties. This did not last long, however, as Indigenous peoples began dying from the importation of infectious diseases decimating populations of up to 90%. The ravages of disease and warfare reduced Indigenous populations to a point that colonial governments began acquiring property through land cession treaties. The shift of power was complete.
– Meryl McMaster
nipimātisiwin mēskanow pēyakwan kipimātisiwin
My destiny is entwined with yours
mihcēt mēskanāsa ēkwa sīpīsisa itohtēmakahki mahtāwinohk
Networks of trails and waterways leading to sacred sites
ēta kā nakiskātohk ta mācīhk
seasonal meeting places
ēta kā kiyohkātocik pītosi iyiniwak
hunting and gathering areas
ēta kā mistēhtākwahk osci kiyohkēwina kotak iyiniwak
A place crucial to social links with other nations
ēta namôya ka pīkopitamihk osci kayās
*A place undamaged since the Younger Dryas*
kostamihk tānsi ē wī mēskocipayik nīkānihk askiy
A fearful apprehension of impact in this moment of environmental history*
tāntē: minahtakahk (Cypress Hills), Conglomerate Cliffs, Saskatchewan
Place: Minahtakahk (Cypress Hills), Conglomerate Cliffs, Saskatchewan
Since the late 19th century Indigenous peoples have been forced to live in designated areas known as reserves, where they have had to learn new ways of life. In the process they became disconnected with ancient customs and traditional knowledges. Stories of the land have also almost disappeared. Slowly, however, Indigenous peoples across the country have begun to heal and understand how critical these stories are to their survival and continuance.
Today, this healing process can be seen in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, where reconciliation defined as “coming to terms with events of the past in a manner that overcomes conflict and establishes a respectful and healthy relationship among people going forward.”
My own familial history is rich in both heritages – Indigenous (Plains Cree) and European (British and Dutch) – and my current work is about the questions of this dynamic. It is about the histories and stories of both sides coming together. Recently I had the privilege of traveling across Canada to learn where many of these stories originated. I feel that without making such an effort to be in the land and landscapes of my ancestors I would be deprived of this knowledge.
– Meryl McMaster
osci ēta kīyapic mōy kā kāmwātahk
From a still unquiet place
ē nitonikātēk ta mistowinamihk osci kā kī ispayik ēkwa sihcikēwin osci ōta
Beckoning a connection to the history and culture of this place
ē nitoniwēhcik kā kī pē nīkānohtēcik
Seeking those who came before
A childhood home
ēta kā kī wāpahtamihk pēyahtikēyimowin ēkwa ayimohowin
A place that has experienced times of peace and struggle
ē tahkonēhcik kā nīkānohtēcik
tāntē: mīkisiw-wacīhk (Red Pheasant First Nation), Saskatchewan
Place: Mkisiw-wacîhk (Red Pheasant First Nation), Saskatchewan
ē nitomikowiyān ta kīwīyān
Calling me home
kayās āsay kī pē ispayin.
A long time has passed
aspin ana paskwāwi moscosis nāpēsis kā nihcipayit onīkīhkwa otāpācikanīhk kā pimācihocik.
The young buffalo child fell from his parent’s travois during travel
ē miskawiht ēkwa ē ohpikihikot paskwāw mostosak ayisīniwak
Found and raised by the bison people
pēyakwā ispayik ta nawasōnāt wītisāna otayisīnīmak ahpo paskwāw mostosak.
One day he had to choose between his human and bison families
pokwātam namôya wītisāna ē kī nawasōnāt, itasiwēw ta ispayit mostos awāsis asinī kākikē
He could not bear to be with only one, so he chose to become mostos awasis asini for eternity
ana kā māhtāwisit asini, mostos awāsis asinī, atāmipīhk apōw sākahikanihk
The sacred stone, mostos awasis asini, rests in the lake
tāntē: mostos awāsis asinī (Buffalo Child Stone), Lake Diefenbaker, Saskatchewan
Place: Mostos awasis asini (Buffalo Child Stone), Lake Diefenbaker, Saskatchewan
Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)
Abalone Shell (Haliotis)
White Sage (Salvia apiana)
Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata)
Within the exhibition, I present dried cedar, dried white sage, dried sweetgrass and an abalone shell. These are all-natural materials use for smudging ceremonies. Smudging is practiced by some Indigenous peoples of the Americas and involves the burning of sacred herbs as a process of spiritual cleansing. The specifics of the ceremonies and the herbs used can vary between nations but many use forms of sage and cedar that are local to their region. The herbs and sweetgrass that I brought are specific to the area that my family comes from in Saskatchewan, Canada.
– Meryl McMaster
Turalayinthi Yarta series
This series explores my connection with Kaurna yarta (Kaurna land) through learning, researching, documenting and traveling on country. Turalayinthi Yarta is a Kaurna phrase "to see yourself in the landscape” or “landscape photography”. In a two-year period, I travelled over 300 km of the southern part of the Hans Heysen trail that runs parallel along the Kaurna nation boundary line in the Mount Lofty ranges. Combining photographs and traditional Nunga (South Australian Aboriginal people) designs to represent my connection with this Kaurna region of South Australia.
The Heysen trail runs through the Mount Lofty and Flinders ranges from Cape Jervis in the south to Wilpena pound in the north. The Heysen trail named after the renown German Australian colonial landscape painter Sir Hans Heysen. The 1,200km long trail passes over many different Nunga nations such as Ramindjeri, Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna, Peramangk, Ngadjuri, Adnyamathanha, and Nukunu lands. I have attempted to acknowledge these Nunga nations throughout this series with traditional language and design.
The photographs of the landscape document different regions, and environments of Kaurna and the surrounding Nunga region. Painting over the European medium of photography with ochre, pipeclay and charcoal with Nunga designs to represent Nunga people’s intellectual, spiritual and physical connection with yarta (Country). The ochre and charcoal on the photographs is a physical presentation of the landscape on the photographs.
My Nunga Kaurna family has been in the region of South Australia for 65,000–80,000 years and has a rich cultural connection to this land. It is a great honour for me as a Kaurna person to learn, practice and walk in my ancestors’ footsteps. This series acknowledges and pays respect to Nunga people and their rich cultural, spiritual and physical connection to this landscape of South Australia.
– James Tylor
Kaurna people are the traditional Indigenous owners of the Adelaide Plains & Foothills of the Nganu Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia. The Yarta Kaurna Nation stretches from Witawartingga Cape Jervis in the south to Murrkauwi Crystal Brook in the north and sits between the Nganu Mount Lofty Ranges and the Yarlu Spencer Gulf. Kaurna people have been in the Kaurna Nation of the Adelaide Plains for over 65,000 years. Over these millennia, Kaurna people have developed a highly tuned and sustainable cultural understanding of this landscape. They utilised the unique geography by harnessing the climate, geology, animals, plants, constellations and interwove this relationship with the environment into cultural historical stories and Songlines. Kaurna people traditionally had a unique system of custodial ownership of the land called Parngkarra, where the specific regions of land and knowledges were handed down through the generations. Kaurna place names are important signifiers of cultural stories and Songlines that connect to the history of this landscape.
In 1836, the British South Australian Company officially colonised the mainland of South Australia with the foundation of the city of Adelaide at the Kaurna site of Tarntanya. The establishment of the South Australian colony began the invasion of the Kaurna Nation and the dispossession of Kaurna people from their traditional lands. The British government in South Australia were aware of the Kaurna Parngkarra system of generational inherited custodial ownership of the land but still chose to replace it with the British commercial system of land sale ownership called Torrens Title, which helped to fund the South Australian Company to colonise the region of South Australia. The South Australian Company sold the land to British and German colonists for European farming and settlement. The British colonisation of South Australia was first led by European explorers, military and surveyors and followed by farmers, miners and settlers. Many of the Indigenous places were renamed with names of the European explorers, pastoralist and places in Europe. The use of European languages such as, English, Gaelic and German in place names in South Australia was a deliberate tactic by the British to declare their ownership over the land and to remove the Indigenous history, language and cultural presence from the Australian landscape.
– James Tylor
The British South Australian Government used a series of acts to dispossess Kaurna people of their culture, language and traditional lands. The South Australian Government Acts were the first of their kind in the Australian Colonies to systematically control Aboriginal people. Today we know these laws as Racial Segregation, Racial Assimilation, Domestic slavery and the Stolen Generation. The beginning of the Australian Frontier Wars in South Australia started with the colonisation of Adelaide in 1836 by the British colonists forcing Kaurna people off their land. This dispossession of land forced Kaurna people into the Christian Missions in Pirltawardli (1838-1845) and then Kintore Avenue (1845-1851) where they were racially segregated from the European colonists in Tarntanya Adelaide. The European settlers in Tarntanya Adelaide lobbied for the removal of Aboriginal people in the city, which led to the closure of Kintore mission. Kaurna children were first moved to Poonindie (1850-1894) 700kms away in Port Lincoln, officially beginning the Stolen Generation policy in Australia. The children were later moved again to Point Pearce (1868-1967) and Raukkan Point McLeay mission (1859-1974) over 200km away from Adelaide.
Indigenous languages and cultural practices were forbidden from being spoken or practiced on Christian missions and were replace with European cultural practices and English Language. Indigenous people including Kaurna were not allowed to leave the missions without permission from the Aboriginal Protector there. The main objectives of Aboriginal missions were to remove Aboriginal people from the land for European settlement and to westernise Aboriginal people to become indentured domestic servants, which was a form of slave labour for use by European colonists. The impact of the Christian missions on the lives, culture and language meant that some cultural practices and languages were lost. Sadly, during this time Kaurna language was said to not have been spoken by the 1880’s.
It was not until the 1967 referendum that Aboriginal people have been included in the Australian Census. The referendum on this decision marked the end of racial segregation of Aboriginal people from the European population in Australia. The official closure of the government Christian missions meant Kaurna people could return back to the Tarntanya Adelaide region. Since the 1990’s, the Kaurna community has been actively reviving Kaurna language and speaking the language again. The community has actively been reclaiming their traditional ownership of the Kaurna land through highlighting Kaurna people’s 65 000+ year cultural history of the region.
– James Taylor
Kaurna Red Kangaroo Totem Song
Tarnta wangkanthi Marni naa pudni
Red Kangaroo says Welcome
Pa Munaintya Tarntanyangga
His Dreaming place is Adelaide.
Nata tarntatina. Nganaitya?
He doesn’t live here anymore. Why?
Tura tarnta, puru tikanthi yaintya.
The shadow of the Red Kangaroo still lives here.
A totem story about the Red Kangaroo Tarnta in Tarntanya Adelaide on Kaurna nation.
Written by Michael O’Brien, James Tylor, Bec Selleck, Rob Amery, Lisa Williamson at University of Adelaide Jan 2019
When I gaze into James Tylor’s photographs, I am aware of how illusive these spaces are and the multitude of interpretations that they support. Hans Heysen’s paintings, from the early twentieth century, were dotted with grazing cattle under imposing eucalypts and communicated an Australian-ness founded on ‘working the land’. Somehow this narrative obliterated an earlier colonial visualization of the landscape in which artists, such as Joseph Lycett, depicted the traditional owners cultivating the environment and managing the fauna in a sustainable manner. These practices, Tylor promotes, are further explored in Bruce Pascoe’s ‘Dark emu’ (2104) and Bill Gammage’s ‘The biggest estate on earth’ (2011).
Charles Bayliss, along with other nineteenth century photographers, documented pastoral properties and outback areas effectively disseminating notions of the land’s economic value as being fundamental to a developing nation. Similarly, Tylor’s images of seascapes, cultivate areas and water sources record the environment in terms of two centuries of successful European agricultural development. However, in works where his focus is on a singular majestic tree articulating an open grassland it reinforces in me the impact colonization on the Nunga people’s culture and their country.
– Allison Holland, Curator
Grey Kangaroo land
Nanturlu tutha ngarkuthi kawanta wamangka
Grey Kangaroo ate grass on the northern plains
Kardlarlu tutha ngadli nantu wayiwayi kumpathi
A fire came and burnt the grass scaring the Grey Kangaroo away
Manya parltarri wamangka, tutha tarni
It rains on the plains and the grass emerges again
Nantu muinmu pudni kawanta wamaana
The Grey Kangaroo comes home again to the northern plains
A song about fire farming on the northern plains of the Kaurna nation & metaphor for the European colonisation of the mid north region of South Australia.
Written by Michael O’Brien, James Tylor, Bec Selleck, Rob Amery, Lisa Williamson at University of Adelaide Jan. 2019