The presumption of Terra Nullius ruled Australian Governmental thought and legislation for close to 200 years. This idea that the land was empty and unspoken for could not be further from the truth, and thankfully our current legislative framework acknowledges the deep cultural and spiritual connection to the land that Indigenous Australians maintain.
‘The genesis of this work came from finding a photograph (long since lost to me) of a ruined church in the north of Australia. It resonated with me because I, like many Australians, was brought up mildly Christian. Here was a picture of a place of worship that had ceased to operate, despite the efforts taken to nurture and create a place of community and belief. In Western terms, it was clear that there once was a sacred place that had now been ruined.
However, my mind turned to the idea of the place itself – without a man-made construction – being the sacred thing. When speaking of sacred places in indigenous terms, every rock, lake, valley or hill has its own songs and stories. Thus the ‘ruination’ (from something as seemingly benign as walking on a hill, or touching a rock) can be less easy to see, certainly less easy for us non-indigenous Australians to truly comprehend.
This work dwells on some of those ideas, and is at its heart a request to share this giant land. A land that has been so beautifully tended for tens of thousands of years by its spiritual and ultimate owners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
St Peter’s Chorale
The University of Newcastle Chamber Choir | This Land