Jidirah the Whale
At the end of September this year Ghost Net Art Project (GNAP) was retained by South Australian peak indigenous arts body Ananguku Arts to run a two week ghost net/marine debris workshop at the Ceduna Aboriginal Art Centre, Tjutjuna Arts, in Ceduna. GNAP Artistic Director Sue Ryan facilitated along with South Australian artist Gina Allain.
The GNAP Events Manager was relegated to managing events on the home front including telephone answering, garden-watering and animal-feeding, which is a lot tougher than it sounds.
Ceduna is the first town you arrive at after crossing the Nullabor Plain from the west, and for those travelers it is a place of much interest after the visual sensory deprivation endured during such a journey. Others, arriving by an alternative route, may find the town less inspiring than the overland travelers from the west. Not that it doesn’t have its attractions – my daily phone calls enquiring as to how the workshop was progressing were invariably answered with something along the lines of “They have oyster farms here”, or “The oysters here are really cheap”, or “Ceduna oysters are excellent”. I think Sue may like oysters.
Apart from small niggles, such as a hair-trigger smoke alarm in the allotted accommodation that announced dinner-time every day and once went off at 2am and 4am the same night, the workshop went swimmingly. Ladies from Yalata drove down to join the local artists working on the project on both weeks of the workshop. Everyone pitched in and a good time was had by all. Yasmin Wolf, Coastal and Marine Officer of Alinytjara Wilurara Natural Resource Management, had sourced all the materials during beach clean-ups conducted prior to the workshop. Yasmin also spent as much time as she could over the two weeks working on the project.
Sue and Gina were extremely well looked after by art centre manager Pam and her husband Graham and both agreed that it was one of the most positive, enjoyable and friendly workshops they had ever been involved with. The main focus of the workshop was to construct a four metre Southern Right Whale, which is an aboriginal totem in the Ceduna area. Everyone involved with the project is very happy with the outcome. Entitled Jidirah the Whale it will be exhibited at the Our Mob: www.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au/exhibitions/ exhibition opening at Artspace Gallery in Adelaide on 24th October,2014
On her arrival back in Cairns, I was pleased to observe that Sue was carrying a small esky of the oysters that I had heard so much about. She said that everyone had a whale of a time.
Story by Greg Adams, Events Manager at Ghost Net Art Project.
Elder Verna Lawrie (pictured), whose totem is the Southern Right Whale, was consulted often during the workshop. Photo by Sue Ryan