Images and annotations exploring the nature and culture of Australia's tropical deep north
Tag: jacky green
Another painting and story from Jacky Green, pictured a long way from home for a big city exhibition of his works in 2013.
Jacky Green, 2013, Private Collection
This painting is about Irinju one of the ancestral beings from a region that is now within Soudan Station in the Northern Territory. This is the place where I was born under a coolabah tree in one of the creek beds running out from the main creek at Soudan Station. The creek where I was born is in an old devil devil story for that country. We call the old devil devil Irinju. He lives under the ground and used to send his hand up out of the creek bed to pick wild oranges from a tree that grew on the hill, west of Soudan Station. When old devil devil was taking the oranges he was stealing them from another old fella from the area where the tree grew. He kept pinchin’ them. That old fella kept wondering why his wild oranges were going missing all the time. To find out what was going on he decided to watch the tree. He’d count the oranges and then go back and see that some more had
gone. He figured that old devil devil was pinchin’ them. So he went to the wild orange tree and waited. It wasn’t long until he saw old devil devil’s hand come up out of the earth and take the wild oranges from the tree. Right away, that old fella, he got his stone axe out and cut the hand off the
arm. The hand fell down and made a big hole, right there. When old devil devil pulled his arm back into the earth it was going everywhere, all over, waving back and forth. It was this action that made the creek bed and that’s right where I was born in the elbow of Irinju, right there, in Wakaya
Earlier today I posted a news story reporting on the indigenous protest about the cultural and environmental damage from the Xstrata mine at McArthur River.
Jacky Green is an artist and cultural warrior fighting for his people against the might of Xstrata.
This painting and his story below gives some background to this struggle.
……from Jacky Green 2013, Private Collection
Mount Isa Mines Limited was the company that first owned the McArthur River Mining lease from the 1950s to 2003. When they first came to the Gulf they were doing tests and drilling to see if they could make an underground mine. The traditional owners of the place wasn’t happy with it, but they said alright because they are going to do it underneath the ground and not damage the property on top it, so they let it happen. But when Xstrata Mining Company took over the lease in 2003 they didn’t respect the agreement that we had with the mining company.
This painting tells the story of our fight with Xstrata Mining Company and how they expanded McArthur River mine from an underground to an open cut mine making it one of largest lead-zinc-silver mines in the world. The mine is built right on the resting place of The Rainbow Serpent. It’s a
spiritually powerful place, real powerful.
The men standing at the bottom of the painting represent the junggayi (Boss for Country) and the
Minggirringi (Owner of Country). Together, these are the people who have responsibility for protecting country. They are powerless, just staring at what is happening to their country, to the animals and sacred sites. They are afraid the land is being poisoned. They have to stand on the
outside of the mine lease, they can’t walk freely on their own country because the mine has restrictions and we can’t enter unless they say so.
Near the airport you can see a tree. This is the place where the Turtle rests. The Turtle is an ancestral
being and part of The Rainbow Serpent story. The tree is a powerful place and only the junggayi can go there. Women, children and young boys can’t go near the tree because it’s too powerful. If anything like kangaroo, stone, fish, turtle or sugarbag is in the area it can only be touched by the
Junggayi. But now the miners are there, not the junggayi. That’s not right
Same story, settlers—miners. Painting by Jacky Green, artist and indigenous activist, Borroloola. 2012 (Private collection)
“The painting is about how we are tryin’ to pull up the mining companies from wrecking our country.
“We live in this country. It belongs to us. We tryin’ to stop them from wrecking our country.
“In the bottom left of the painting are the miners entering our country. First they come with their ‘agreements’, but they override us; they still come, it doesn’t matter what. Then they come with their dozers.
“Lined up on the edge of the river are Aboriginal people ready to drive the miners out of our country.
“It’s not the first time that we have had people invade our country. It happened, first time, back in
the 1870s when white explorers with their packhorses started moving through our country, looking
round to see what was there. Aboriginal people were watching them from a distance, staying back,
not wanting to be seen. Others were ready to spear them. “You can see this story in the bottom right
hand side of the painting. Above this is a group of Aboriginal men at the foot of the stone country.
“They have been watchin’ what is going on and talking about what to do, how to protect our country.
” Nothing has really changed since whitefellas first came into our country. First time it was horses and now bulldozers.” — story from Jacky Green.