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.

Desecrating the Rainbow Serpent: a painting by
Jacky Green (2014)
At the top of the painting, guarded by the Junggayi (Boss for Country) and Minggirringi (Owner of Country), are the eyes of The Rainbow Serpent. The Junggayi and Minggirringi are worried that The Snake is being desecrated. The Rainbow Serpent is one of our spiritually powerful ancestral beings. It rests under McArthur River in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria. Under our law we hold responsibility for protecting its resting place from disturbance, and responsibility for nurturing its spirit with ceremony and song—just as our ancestors have done since the beginning. The left of the painting represents a time when we had authority over country. We lived on country, hunted, fished and gathered our food on country. We used fire to care for it, and most importantly, we protected our sacred places within it. By protecting and nurturing our sacred sites we protect and nurture our spirituality and our wellbeing as Gudanji, Garrwa, Mara and Yanayu peoples. The right of the painting represents the present time (2014) when we still have no authority over all of our ancestral country. The artwork illustrates how the resting place of The Rainbow Serpent looks now. It’s been smashed by McArthur River Mine. Country, torn open to make way for one of the largest lead, zinc and silver mines the the world has ever seen. To do this they cut the back of our ancestor—The Rainbow Serpent—by severing McArthur River and diverting it through a 5.5 kilometre diversion cut into our country.
A lot of people have died because of the desecration of our sacred places. Interfering with these powerful places, it pulls people down. The stress of seeing our land suffer means we suffer. Men tried to fight but got pulled down. I might be the next one, or the Junggayi will go down. The mining executive might go too. All this pressure, it’s no good.

7 o’clock this morning at the McArthur River mine — the smoke is from out-of-control chemical reactions deep inside the mountain of waste rock. There’s no doubt this is an environmental disaster — the only question is … Just how big a disaster?
This is what Jack Green and the rest of Aboriginal people who live at Borroloola have been protesting about. Watch this space. Just finished a 1000km drive today.

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!