Visiting the scarred tree


I was in Bundanon for a week, in fantastic company with the folks behind the Big Fag Press.

We were there to catch up, plan ahead, relax and take the time to talk, and it was fantastic, cooking amazing food for each other. Things like feral lemons pie, nettle, chickweed and farmers friend frittata, pumpkin risotto and other beautiful treats.

Walking around in Bundanon is the most rewarding activity and I had the chance to revisit sites and trees that I have been knowing for years.  Unfortunately the blog where my findings and writings were recorded is now down. Ah, the pleasures of html crafting! So come back here when that will be resolved.

There is a particular tree amongst those 1,100 hectares that I haven't visited for years, it is the tree that donated its bark to a bark canoe, a nawi in original language.

This was the work of a group of artists from Boolarng Nangamai Aboriginal Corporation, Steven Russell, Kelli Ryan, Noel Lonesborough, Kristine Stewart and Phyllis Stewart, together with ethno-botanists and artists Jim Walliss and myself, as part of a residency period when Jim and myself investigated the possibility to entwine art and ethnobotanical science, bringing forth the knowledge of various cultures related to the plants in the landscape.

The making of the Nawi was by far the most important action we researched and tested. In the words of Jim, it is all good to have record of traditional practices, but to actually go through the process of making ropes from natural fibre, making medicine from plants, eating plants from the fields, tools from the environment you discover a host of missing information, that can only be recorded and learned via practice, actively engaging with the material and the instructions.

Jim was a great teacher, skilling up scores of people on old crafts. He's no longer with us, and this post will serve as a record of how much he shared.

Thank you to everyone involved, I was the one in the background.
Here is a great educational resource prepared for Bundanon Trust about the Nawi. 

Here a photoessay of the process, from research to completion.

Below a few videos that came out of the exchange.

Little tutorial on how to make strings out of Brown Kurrajong -Commersonia bartramii- fiber. A collaboration betwwen Jim Walliss and Diego Bonetto, part of Siteworks at Bundanon. www.bundanon.com/siteworks

Historians Jim Walliss and instigator Diego Bonetto collaborate with artists Steve Russell and Noel Lonesborough from Boolarng Nangamai Aboriginal Corporation to tackle the challenge of making a traditional (Aboriginal) Jervis Bay canoe from the bark of a stringybark tree sourced on the Bundanon property.


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