Almost 30 years on, here I was again gorging on fresh quandong fruits (source of vitamin C from the bush) with Dad. Only this time it was me gathering the fruit for him and my son. What better way to begin rediscovering my childhood environments: the Mallee and the Riverina!
While Dad, Mum and I are Australian born of mixed heritage, Dad is not of Australian descent. Even I sometimes found that hard to believe as it was Dad, not my Australian mum, who dragged me around the bush instilling in me his man-on-the-land knowledge, bushcraft of the early settlers and, of course, respect for Mum’s Country.
I scavenge to inform my practice. My mum lived in dirt-floor humpies made of similar detritus. Understandably Mum hasn’t entertained my dabbling in found materials whatsoever, while Dad finds them pleasing.
Dad taught me how to read the sky, about the land and soil types, waterways, saltpans, animals, along with their habits and habitats, and plants, especially those introduced from the Northeys’ homeland of England.
With fond memories of weaving the cumbungi plant with Mum and Dad, along with the endless supply of the plant, I wanted this reputable weaving reed to inform my practice. But after a respectful realisation that I was not prepared to take fibre from Country I wasn’t connected to, I eventually decided to take up Dad’s suggestion to ‘weave’ with rubbish instead.
I knew I was destined to be sculptor after manipulating a piece of found material into my interpretation of an Australian bush bowl. My knowledge of traditional Australian society and weaving techniques informs my practice, and it is also a way of sharing knowledge of the creation of Australia during the Dreamtime. My ancestral beings and guiding lights are the ways and means for me to find my way to, not only Waradgerie (Wiradjuri) Country, but the vitamin C in those quandongs, in the Countries where I was born.