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Kuru Alala + Adelaide - part 2 

This week is National Reconciliation Week. In Adelaide I stumbled across the ‘KURU ALALA - Eyes Open' exhibition by the Tjanpi Desert Weavers in collaboration with two visual artists who are immigrants to Australia; Columbian-born, Maria Fernanda Cardoso (link to website) and New Zealand born, Alison Clouston (link to vimeo). This was definitely one of the jaw dropping moments of my Adelaide experience. 

The sculptures in this exhibition made me laugh but I also found myself wanting to sing, cry and take a nap all at once… a breath-taking collection of artworks made in response to a series of bush trips and artists’ camps held in the Ngaanyatjarra and Pitjantjatjara lands of Central Australia.

I don’t have permission to post pictures of the artworks but follow the links and you’ll see… if you have your Eyes Open that is!

It occurs to me that one of the reasons I had such a strong response to this collaborative exhibition is because it mirrors a little of my story…

In 2006 I spent a few weeks being hosted by the Congress mob in in Port Augusta in Adnyamathanha country. I was with two other whitefellas including my Taiwanese-Australian friend, who was practically adopted by some of the local elders they got on so well. 

I grew up in Wellington, Australia, near Dubbo in western New South Wales, where my Dad was an engineer and my Mum was a teacher at a local Aboriginal Primary School. My time in Port Augusta in 2006 was, in a kinesthetic sense, a reconnection to my childhood home. Something about the Adnyamathanha ways felt in my body like how I’d grown up in Wellington, NSW.

Me and my Mum - 2011 in Melbourne.

Even though I’m white as white (Anglo: German, English, with a bit of Welsh - and probably a few other places - heritage), something connected that I still can’t quite explain. When I returned from Port Augusta to my home in Sydney I could speak of my friend’s experiences but couldn’t speak much of my own experiences for many months. I may have been in ‘reverse culture shock’… I’m not entirely sure how that works, but it was clear I was grieving. 

It seemed extreme to me, as the girl who hates computers, but chose Computer Studies over Aboriginal Studies in High School when they were the only two elective subjects that weren’t full. How could I have suddenly become a champion of Aboriginal rights?

Relationships; living together; learning from each other, that’s how.

The ‘KURU ALALA - Eyes Open’ exhibition is on at the Jam Factory in Adelaide until June 7, 2012. For more information about National Reconciliation Week see the Reconciliation Australia website -

Filed under Reconciliation Art Travel Home Connection Family australia

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