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Acknowledgement of Country – MAANZ EXHIBITION

Pepper Street Gallery, Burnside 2 October 2020


It’s important for me to start by acknowledging Country.  Acknowledgement of Country does four things:

It gives the opportunity to remind us of the whole history of our Country.

It reminds us that we are a nation of many layers from the most ancient to the most recent.

It reminds us that we, as Australians, have an amazing gift. It is the gift that Aboriginal people, though survival and custodianship of the Country, provide to the nation as a whole. That is, the most ancient and oldest continuing population on the planet. That is extremely powerful. It is fundamental to the identity of this nation.

It reminds us of the unfinished business of our nation. That is, the lack of equitable social justice outcomes for first peoples.

While we acknowledge Country, think of those four things.  Think of Kaurna people’s use of technologies for tools and weaving, their art, their knowledge of medicinal plants, their stories of the night sky, their travels for trading and cultural events.

I thank the MAANZ members and mosaic artists generally for their kindnesses, their sharing of resources and their generosity of spirit.  MAANZ members were the first visitors to my house and garden during the MAANZ Symposium in the Barossa Valley during 2011. Their encouragement for my bold ideas was heartening.

At that time, the Mermaid Wall was well underway, and the Bushland Mosaic had commenced. Today, the external walls of the house are fully mosaiced and there’s a book!

The story about the development of the mosaic on the back wall of my house is in the eBook, which can be downloaded from Booktopia eBooks – just search for Heather Gordon. That eBook has the wombat on the front.

When Kristin Wohlers asked me last December about launching the book, it seemed safe to say “Yes” for the MAANZ Exhibition the following October.

At that time, I was only thinking about printed media, because Barossa Nanna and the Lonely Chook was a print book.

Then along came the Corona Virus. I’m one of the older, vulnerable Australians. I’ve been at home since March. Along with everyone else, I’ve had to deal with ambiguity and adjust my expectations.

Barossa Nanna and the Counting Book – Bushland Mosaic won’t be a print book.

Thank you to the people who willingly joined me on that mosaic journey, particularly in the publication of the book: Centred in Choice for supporting the project; Kari Atze and Robby Towill for their contributions to the text; Bridgit McGoldrick for the photography; Moira Brennan for the illustrations.

This quote by Robyn Archer is mosaiced into the house foundations.

Art is not a frill on the frock of life, it is the very fabric: without it we are naked to the often cruel, harsh and unjust elements of life.”

Thank you all for being here today. Thank you to the Pepper Street staff for making the exhibition available within the Covid Rules; to Kristin, as the MAANZ SA Rep; the exhibition committee; the sponsors, and the behind-the-scenes workers – particularly the team who curated the exhibition.

And to the mosaic artists; thank you for sharing your talents.

Heather Gordon