Tuesday, February 1, 2011

email from Gary Grant

Hi Jagath,

It was good to chat to you at Yabun. Here is a bit of background detail on the sculpture. Find attached an image of it and an article about it from the National Indigenous Times and another from the Australian Newspaper.

The photo of the sculpture attached, was taken at dawn Sunday 27 June, 2010 at Solander Point, the headland where Lt James Cook decided to make a left-hand turn into Botany Bay and from there, set foot for the first time on Australian land. It was of course from that exact moment in time of Cook's landing that the fortunes for Aboriginal peoples in the country changed. (This image is not photo-shopped). The 8,500 individual vials contain the sand from Cook's landing site and appear to have the effect of being suspended in space.

Very fortunately the sculpture gained support from the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council of Botany Bay and their Cultural Heritage Sub-Committee. They received it on Monday 5 July, 2010 at the start of NAIDOC Week. It also gained support of National Parks and Wildlife and Harold Thomas, the designer of the Aboriginal flag.
The purpose of the sculpture lies in the small 15mm by 75mm clear vials. The concept is that any Aboriginal person can come to collect their own vial. Each vial collected symbolises the return of land and its original spirituality back to each Aboriginal person and can be kept as something to be passed on to their future generations. Each vial is given a small label on the side showing its authenticity. When a vial is removed a new one will be inserted to take its place.

The size of the sculpture is approximately 2.5 metres by 3.5 metres and is made of clear sheet polycarbonate. Across the surface of the polycarbonate  are several thousand holes in the shape of the continent of Australia into which are inserted the vials. The caps of the vials are the colours black, red and yellow. The sculpture is erected as a free standing sculpture to be used for special ceremonial occasions and can then be disassembled and stored. It currently resides in the front foyer of the head office of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council in Parramatta.

To date just over 900 people have collected the vials (600 alone at Yabun). The Title of the sculpture is below and people are asked to read it at the time of taking their vial. I am so pleased to say that the vast majority of the people who have done this act have been very much affected in a positive sense. Some have cried, some have been reverent, most have expressed a sense a strength and appreciation.

Here is the Title:

‘Let it be known that this continent was in its true sense owned in its entirety for millennia by the Aboriginal nations of Australia both by title and spiritual belonging.
Let it be known that the ownership by the British in 1770 begun on this site that was brought down on the Aboriginal peoples did not expunge this truth of Aboriginal ownership.

Let a call now go out to every Aboriginal man, woman and child in every part of this continent to come to this place and take back to them this recognition. Come now and take this vial which holds in it the land from the very spot from which all this which was taken from you. This vial holds in it the land as recognition of your return of ownership and that it symbolizes to Aboriginal people, to hold to their body, to know in their mind and be upon their soul the return of this, their birth right’.

Kind regards,

Gary Grant