Over the years I’ve noted down statements that I consider life changing. I ended my previous blog (Words, words, words, 11 December 2012) with one of my favourites: Thomas Jefferson’s “Not a blade of grass grows uninteresting to me”.
Others have been: “The problem’s the problem; the person’s not the problem.”
Yesterday we were at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In the Yiribana Gallery I saw a painting called Wanka (Spider) by Pitjantjatjara man, Harry Tjutjuna.
I’m pretty sure I met Harry Tjutjuna at Pipalyatjara, in northern South Australia in February 1976.
He wasn’t painting then. He began painting in his 70s, according to the biography above. I remember one day he was worried. There had been a little bit of rain and therefore the supply plane with frozen meat couldn’t get in. What would the community do without meat? In the end, the men went hunting. But he said something one day that I’ll never forget. Sitting on a couch in a caravan, one of the three whitefeller structures in what was then a remote outstation, he said, “Aborigine know everything: star, moon, grass…”
I had finished my first year of a Bachelor of Music degree at Melbourne Uni, and I remember thinking, “‘Everything’ to me is knowing the political layout of the country, how to balance your books and do your taxes, get around town, write an essay…Out here knowing the stars, moon, rocks, grasses is everything!”
It may have been the moment I ceased to be such a city-slicker, and love this sort of country.
Posted By Gordon Kalton Williams to Loving Oz and the US (thoughts on Australia and America) at 12/16/2012 06:30:00 PM