'Bind' is a giant length of Tasmanian sagg or lomandra plant that I collected and twined and onto which I strung black crow shells from four places in Tasmania. The shells are well spaced to present as a kind of unreadable calendar - perhaps indicative of months, perhaps decades, perhaps generations, perhaps events connecting Aboriginal people, places and practices in Tasmania. When the strand was completed it ran through my house down my hall way and in and out of two rooms. When I joined it at the ends this length about duration and memory suddenly changed to be something wearable, familiar, almost auratic of what was once everyday. Like many objects of memory this necklace is not quite that - it is performing out of place, out of size, bereft of a body to carry it, this strand-on-antlers is a reminder of how Aboriginal culture has been maintained amidst the devastation of colonisation. To make this work I needed to walk in Country, understand how to collect and twine with this plant, and the shells were shared with me. In connecting with my past I find reason to make in my present.
The artist's statement for the exhibition states: The works in Aftermath present Tasmanian places and their stories as contested and suppressed. 'Sites' are reproduced as GPS coordinates spelling out places of kidnap by black crow shells impressed in cuttlefish, or through the material evidence of places significant to Aboriginal presence or absence. Aftermath reveals our history and stories as a triad, activated in conjunction with places and their objects to mark the histories within us as recallable and conveyable.
My aim is to offer for fresh reconsideration aspects of cryptic or unresolved histories that bring us to this point of dim memory. These objects and the repetitive actions that created them aim to trigger a rhythmic form of remembering of this island’s colonial-contact inheritance.
The purpose of an exhibition facilitates and quickens my ongoing research of difficult histories. None of the works present finite or fully comprehended stories, instead they offer me a means to register my own sitting at this moment in the search, the unravelling and slow comprehension of colonial contact. Tea-tree, coals and shells of the outdoor-world are placed in this exhibition amidst indoor furnishings to provide a key or coda to deciphering our furtive histories in the real. Our shared pasts linger as accessibly amidst hills and along old roadways of this island as in the texts of the library and archive.
Black crow shells, twined Lomandra longifolia, Northern Midlands dropped antlers, Tasmanian oak
140.0 x 100.0 x 30.0 cm overall
Purchased with funds provided by the Patricia Lucille Bernard Bequest Fund 2008
Not on display
© Julie Gough
Where the work was made
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Referenced in 1 publication
Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2008–09, 'Collections: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art', pg. 22-25, Sydney, 2009, 24.