Rovers

 

Rovers is the first show in the seven that I will see for the citizen reviewer role that I have been gifted from Brisbane Festival and Aruga PR. I placed Rovers as one of the top picks on my wish list. As a woman and mother myself, I am fascinated with how our mothers and ancestors influence our lives. How we all hold the wisdom and knowledge in our DNA from our ancestors. How we have rooted in us the traits and lessons from stories of the women before us deep within our center. I wanted to see this show with my West End living friend that I share many great stories with, so, I traveled an hour south to Brisbane to pick up my plus one and take us for a night out.

The show started with a welcome to country, this always gets me in the heart, I was equally in love with the use of the traditional language spoken by Roxy / Jessie. The use of simple props meant that the focus was on the women on stage bouncing off each other’s energy and enjoying performing together after 21 years. The comedy came as side splitting relief to what could’ve been an intense and heavy piece of work. The voice over added a modern multi-media facet to the show.

Barbara and Roxy / Barbara and Jessie traveled, to the center of the country and heart. Rovers was about four women, played by two in one show. The layers of four women was intricately knitted together in a back and forth weave between reality, memories and stories. The tales of wild, tough women trekking the depths of their hearts and country, memories exaggerated or diminished by the retelling of the tale over time. Barbara and Roxy pulled from the heart of their knowledge, skills and friendship to take the audience seated in the intimate space of The Block at QUT’s Theatre Republic, on a funny, drama filled adventure exploring and reliving the important stories, memories and women that shaped them – Aunty Barbara and Grandma Jessie. At some stages in the hour long show, I was anxious that I had missed important parts of the back and forth story. However, writer Katherine Lyall-Watson and director Caroline Dunphy had that covered with one or both coming out of her character and clarifying the memory or the story and where the recollection or tale originated. The show ended on a fun note, we left with a smile on our face and wrote positive comments on the feedback form given as we exited.

Whenever my West End friend and I go to an art gallery we always pick our favorite art work. So what was my favorite part of Rovers. The intimacy of the setting and the language. I took away from it that, the work we do on ourselves emotionally, spiritually, and how we push ourselves out of our comfort zones and explore our hearts and country is what carries on in DNA. Our stories and memories will be recalled and carried on to future generations. So be the wild, adventurous, funny lady.

VISIBLE

I am not the type of woman that enjoys going places on my own, I would prefer to share an experience with family or friends. However, if I am at a book store, art gallery or museum please don’t come near me or talk to me. Leave me be in my own world, let me sink in to the emotions of the work, the beauty or the ugliness. I had to make the trek to Brisbane to pick up goodies for the Brisbane festival that I am a citizen reviewer for, so while I was in town I made the most of the opportunity and visited QAG.

A city dwelling friend knows my love for a bit of culture and recommended I have a look at the Tony Albert ‘Visible’ installation.

I illegally parked at the office of PR company Aruga to pick up my food and wine vouchers, t-shirt and lanyard for the Brisbane Festival, I raced out of there before I got towed. Paid the $17 for parking at the cultural centre and bought a burnt, too strong coffee from the museum cafe, forcing it down at an outside table watching the rain clean the city trying to remember the floor I parked my car on.

My city dwelling friend and I always pick a favourite piece whenever we visit a gallery together, the pieces I have chosen as favourites for the Tony Albert work were not visually beautiful, but emotionally moving. The “Moving Targets” 2015 is a stripped back shell of a car with the bonnet and boot popped open, TV screens fill the inside of the car with images of young indigenous males. The blacked out space is intensified with the walls covered in wallpaper. The wallpaper being digital images of bare chested aboriginal males with a target positioned over the centre of their chest, these images made up the award winning series “Brothers” 2013, the brothers are young men from the Kirinari Hostel in King’s Cross. The dark space, the stripped car, the stares of the indigenous men lining the walls was intense. I had a sense of fear, intimidation, and darkness a feeling of wanting to flee from the dark back into the light airy open space of the gallery. The red targets on the chests of the young men plastered on the walls signifys the men as targets of society. However, I was drawn to their chests, to the targets and thought of the hearts that beat there, the history, the ancestral wisdom that pumps in their blood.

On the outside wall of the “Moving targets”, The “Aboriginalia” wall hung. A white wall covered in kitsch household items popular for the 50’s and 60’s coffee mugs, salt and pepper shakers, tea towels, ash trays and souvenirs, commemorative tea spoons, wall hangings, figurines and a pinball machine decorated with images and caricatures of indigenous people, in the colour pallet and textures of the time green, orange, brown a bit of velvet, plastic and wood. The Aboriginalia wall was equally racist, fascinating and disturbing. I didn’t spend much time in front of the wall, but the piece stayed in my mind. It made me sad- these items are so recent in our cultural history. It made me want to spend time with works that celebrate the indigenous culture. I do love that the work hasn’t left me, that it has raised awareness, thought and conversation.

Like I said not beautiful pieces but thoughtful conversation starters. My favourite.

Dale Harding

They were in a concentration camp, they were enclosed within the perimeter of a wire fence, they lived in dormitories and their clothes were not suitable for the climate. Their language was taken away from them and if they spoke it they would be punished severely, their culture, their traditions were prohibited from being practiced or spoken of. They were afforded no dignity. They were malnourished not only physically as the food was not sufficient to sustain them, but mentally and emotionally. They were forbidden to use their names and they were assigned an alpha numeric identity. Nanna was W38.

W38 was stamped into a lead breast plate worn around the neck. Elements that created the breast plate were lead, and old fencing wire. Lead is heavy, it is toxic to the nervous system, and cold. Lead in the breast plate represented the deadly way of life forced on these people. Fencing wire represented the boundaries for living as a young child.

So who wore this form of identification?

Indigenous Australians.

T and I went to the art gallery after dropping J at school. We sat for an hour and listened to the artist Dale Harding explain his art work and contribution to the installation at The Hub – Caboolture Regional Art Gallery

We took a seat in the arranged seating and with five other women of varying ages, leaving half of the chairs empty. Emotive art works from Michael Cook lined the walls and Wilma Walker’s baskets were displayed on pedestals, down lighting lit the space and the polished wooden floors added another earth element.  Listening to this world renowned artist verbalize the atrocities of his family and country, I had tears tracking down my cheeks. I was ashamed, and embarrassed that within the hour spent with this generous, honest man, I learnt more about Indigenous Australian history than when I was at school or at any time since. I was uncomfortable as a white woman in this setting, that, I had to be educated to the outrageous history of the state that we live in. History that is so new. As Dale said, while World War I and II were raging in Europe and atrocities were changing their culture and history. There were atrocities happening in our own country. In our state of Queensland. He opened up and told us that this history lesson had also skipped a generation in his family. That his mother never knew the extent of her mother’s and his nanna’s tragedy. It wasn’t until Dale started to ask about the story of his nanna that it came to light. Dale worried about asking appropriate questions to his ancestor, he was mindful in seeking her permission to share her story, he is very cultured and educated on the strict protocols for sharing women’s and men’s stories.

As T and I left the gallery after taking a few photos. I was grateful that T had the opportunity to have that experience and to learn some history from such an authentic source and to view the Exhibition: My Country, I Still Call Australia Home: Contemporary Art from Black Queensland.

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Wilma Walker – Wilma made these baskets from memory as an infant. Her mother hid her in a similar basket to prevent government officials from removing her from her family.