My Private Thoughts and Public Adventures – An Artist’s Perspective Part II
By Space Coast Daily // July 15, 2012
WOMENS HEALTH AND TRAVEL
A WOMEN’S JOURNEY, ADVENTURES AND PERSPECTIVE
Part II of Judy Edwards Journey
I first saw the Aborigine’s in Coober Pedy, Australia, the half way mark to Alice Springs.
Coober Pedy’s claim to fame is that it is the Opal Capital of the World and is in the middle of nowhere.
Clusters of ragged Aborigines gathered on street corners of this small underground town.
The temperature is so extreme, ranging from below freezing to 120F, that unless you are Aborigine or claustrophobic, you live in dug outs.
Dug outs have a year round temperature of 75 F and the ever present flies don’t like to go down them.
It was here that Ineke told me the story of the Aborigines.
Depending on the researcher you pay attention to, they have been in Australia for the last 60,000 or so years.
They were a hunter gather, semi-nomadic group of people with a sophisticated ‘dreamtime’ spirituality connecting them to the land around theme.
They had numerous dialects and their history was not written, but passed down from generation to generation.
The common dialect now is ‘pidgin’ and as the elders die, so do the stories.
When the British took over Australia in the 1780’s they either ignored the Aborigines, murdered them, or they died from disease brought in by the white men.
From 1869 to 1969, the Australian government stole the Aborigine children that were fathered by white men and subjected them to forced assimilation into the white ways.
They thought it only took three generations to breed out the Aborigine.
In the 1970’s, there were civil rights movements that stopped this practice, returned the land and some semblance of autonomy to the Aborigines.
We made it to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and had the good fortune to stay on site at a friend of Ineke’s.
This National Park is owned by the Aborigine people.
There are signs all around, about how they want you to enjoy and respect the land that is alive to them.
We hiked around Uluru and Kata Tjuta and it was not without feeling the spiritual connection these unique landforms hold.
We were able to see rock art that rivaled the Lascaux Cave Paintings in France.
It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the Aborigine began to put their stories down on canvas. Before then it was drawn on the sand, or painted on their bodies.
We visited the Maruku Art Centre which is a clearing house for paintings and sculpture done by the Aborigine and saw outstanding paintings done by the local folk at the cultural arts centre.
We eventually made it to Alice Springs where I was scheduled to teach an Encaustic Workshop.
That went off without a hitch and it was fun to see people excited about what they could create with hot wax, pigment and heat.
During our trips into Alice Springs, which is not much larger than Melbourne, I saw a large population of Aborigines and they were nothing like their for-bearers, the hunter-gathers.
For the most part, they looked unhealthy and over-weight.
I was standing on a corner of Alice one day and saw the ‘bush bus’ pull up.
‘Bush’ is anywhere outside of town in the Outback and this bus was transporting the Aborigine to and from town back to their communities.
I watched the disheveled kids, pack up boxes of candy, cookies, chips, white bread, soda, sugar, and alcohol. It was poison to them.
The Aborigines have a short life span and die prematurely from cardiovascular disease and renal failure.
Drug and alcohol abuse is present within the communities.
Petrol sniffing is popular with the young kids.
Watching them load up the ‘bush bus’ with all that junk food was interesting to me, in that, here I was, so very far away from home, near a group of people whose ancestry is as ancient as any on the planet and they were doing the same thing that we are doing to ourselves here in the United States.
We may not be getting to the market on a ‘bush bus’ but we are getting it.
The conspiracy stories against corporations that are poisoning our food, our water, our air and our bodies made it all the way to the center of the outback in Australia.
It was just more obvious here as the population of Aborigines was more limited.
The question I asked myself was, how did this all happen in the first place?
to be continued…..
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Judy Edwards is a painter and writer who lives in Brevard County, Florida. Edwards studied art at the Honolulu Art Academy, Rhode Island School of Design, Newport Art Museum on Monhegan Island, Maine and at the Ringling School in Sarasota, Florida. Currently, Edwards is a member of the Fifth Avenue Art Gallery in Melbourne, Florida.
In art, she places her current emphasis on investigating, creating, and manipulating colors with molten wax. Edwards says, “The additive and subtractive nature of encaustics lends itself to abstraction and is thrilling to work with”.
Visit her website at JudyEdwards.com to find out more about Edwards and her art.