ON THE ROAD — About 700km south of Alice Springs the gibber landscape is suddenly dotted with conical mounds — looking like the work of giant ants. These ants are rugged Australians who for 100 years have been sinking mine shafts in the hope of rich reward created millions of years ago. About 150 million years ago an ocean covered the Coober Pedy region. As the sea water receded silica solutions were carried down to be deposited in cavities, faults and fractures. Over time those deposits have been transformed into opal. The Coober Pedy opal fields were discovered in 1915 by a group of men looking for gold. 100 years later Coober Pedy produces 85% of the world’s opal supply.
Heart of Country, 2013,
Jacky Green (centre above), Drill Hall Gallery, ANU
The heart represents the life of the country. It’s the heart of Aboriginal people and the country, together, as one. Through the heart runs a river. Rivers are important places for us Aboriginal people. They always have been. Country needs water. On the left-hand side at the top are four people. These figures represent the mining company and government. They work together to take what they want from us. Below them are the drilling rig, grader and dozer all belonging to the mining company who are comin’ into to our country and damaging it. In the middle of the heart are the four clan groups of the Borroloola region. The Garawa, Gudanji, Mara and Yanyuwa. The line with four people sittin’ down are the singers of the four clan groups. Yanyuwa in red, Mara black and red, Gadanji yellow one and Garawa brown. Above them in the heart are their dancers. It’s though our song and dance that we pass the knowledge and law of the country. Above the heart is what the country used to be like. Beautiful, with everything there for us, lots of bush-tucker and water. But when you got all this machinery comin’ into our country you start to get damage. People and bush-tucker pushed aside having to move somewhere else, sometimes dyin’. You can see the area around the miners is empty no bush-tucker and no Aboriginal people. This no good.
Another powerful picture and story from artist and activist Jack Green in Borroloola. Traditional owners in the Borroloola area are struggling against the powerful alliance of government and big business. They say Xstra’s mine and disregard for the environment is killing country and culture.
Read what Jack has to say…
FIFO —Jacky Green, 2012, Private Collection
I call this painting Fly In and Fuck Off. It tells the story how the government mob and mining mob fly into our country to talk at us. They fly in and tell us one thing and then they say they will be comin’ back but we never see them again. They fly in, use complicated words and then fly right back out,
real quick. The people sitting on the ground in the painting are us Aboriginal people. We all focused on the government people standing with their whiteboard. The bring ladies in sometimes who do all the talkin’. But we not really understandin’ what they sayin’. Many of us don’t read and write so the words on the board mean nothing. It’s really hard, getting our heads around what it really means.
That’s why some of them just sittin’, scratchin’ their heads and others they got their hands up wantin’ to ask questions. Why they here in our country? The government story doesn’t go through to us properly. Their paperwork and their story always two different things. They just put something
in front of us and when they think they got it right they outta here real quick and we don’t know what they really meant. This top-down way of talking with us been going on too long. Things gotta change. We want things to be explained to us proper way so we can sit and talk about it amongst
ourselves. We’ll be switched on then and make our own decision to say yes or no. None of this “gotta
hurry up ‘cos our aeroplane is leavin”. They gotta give us time. No more of this Fly In and Fuck Off stuff!