The last day of the festival is a cracker. The welcome to country from Auntie Joan Hendriks is warm, noting the LINES approach and the organic weave it has created to draw in local artists, creatives from elsewhere to bind them under the auspices of the festival with indigenous artists, story and culture. The ability to “produce results that last” was noted, with facilitator Delvene Cockatoo Collins noting that, “Only good may come from it”.
I’ve been visiting Stradbroke Island since the 1960s, and I’ve never had the opportunity to experience the indigenous culture in as affirming and holistic way as this event managed on Saturday 1 July. Josh Walker’s Yulu Burri Ba Dancers were compelling, their sounds (a rhythmic hiss, Walker’s voice, the didgeridoo and clap sticks) seductive, with their youngest member, a girl of about four, visibly following the example of her fellow dancers with entrancing concentration. The exhibition and discussion of the traditional cultural artefacts captivated young and old – children came in from the skate park, the vine swing in the trees, the play equipment – to hear about hunting with woomera and spears, combat and to see a fire made from coconut husk and a sharp stick. Matthew Burns, a Quandamooka traditional owner, finished with didgeridoo demonstration that conjured native animals.
Then Joshua Walker’s discursive narration of creation stories took us on many journeys, including the traversing of the dolphin behaviour, the fall from innocence of man again and again, and the story of the moon and sun.
Luke Kidd’s final installation and performance, A Proposal for Placemaking: North Stradbroke Island, after dark on Mooloomba Reserve, traced his own non-Aboriginal experience on the island, with film footage at night of the Gorge Walk, the mystery he found in the headland in the dark, and the beauty and fragility of he observed in its native vegetation. He made the stark contrast – with other film footage of the road – of the way we may more often experience country.
Apart from the significant success of the weaving program for locals and visitors alike, the other aspect of LINES 2012 that stays with me is the wisdom in the words of Quandamooka elder Aunty Evelyn Parkin, who, with her fresh water blessing (a metaphor for spirit), advised us all to listen – to the silence, to the sounds of our environment, and to the stories of others. It does seem like a recipe for harmony.