The Telstra Prize

I’m only just now getting around to writing about last week now – it’s been so busy! So the Telstra Prize. That happened! On those two beautiful pieces of Belgian Linen (there’s this huge roll of it at the art centre – and yes I’ve totally wondered what it would be like to wrap with – even in it’s natural state this stuff is art on cloth) this stuff was incredible – and on those two pieces, I told my story. My story of recconection and the duality of grief and joy. I’ll be honest – I know I have absolutely zero chance of winning – but I guess that’s not really what it’s about. And something Skye said really resonated with me – as a professional artist, it’s my job to put myself out there and tell my story – that’s my job. To tell my story. So I created my pieces and I took them down to the art centre. I let go of the fear that my work isn’t strong enough to stand next to the works of the Barbara Moore’s of the world – and I just embraced the fact that I AM an emerging Aboriginal Artist with a story to tell, and this is my place to tell it. I packed up the car and the kids early I the hopes that I could sneak down early, before I started work at the school making the lunches, so that none of the other artists would see it. I got down there (did I tell you I can drive a manual now?!) and Skye wasn’t there – it was all locked up. I was too early. So I took the kids home for a bit and then went back – still closed. Now at this point the thought of dragging the kids all the way back and forth (all of one street; it took me longer to put the kids in the car than actually drive) made me want to stick three corner jacks in my eyes (and we have plenty of those to go around!) so I decided to just go to school, get the lunches done and then go back after. When I got down there – there must have been 20 Anangu sitting outside. I’ve never seen so many people sitting outside of the art centre than on a day that I want to sneak my paintings in under the radar. And there was some massive name artists there. I pulled out one of the two pieces, and everyone turned to look. One of the ladies – a famous artist, looked at my artwork and then looked at me; “nyuntu?” – you? I nodded meekly – “uwa” – yes. She smiled broadly; “wiru” – good. And then everyone came to see – and they all smiled and gave me thumbs up and nodded. Another famous artist motioned to an even famouser (that’s definitely a word) artist and she looked and gave me a big smile and thumbs up. Then I got it inside and all the ladies, hunched over their work, studiously painting, looked up. They smiled, whooped, thumbs up’d and told me how wiru it was. I was being celebrated by some massive names in Aboriginal art. Now perhaps it’s because they hadn’t seen my work, or because it’s different to the styles up here. Perhaps they are all insanely polite and when I left they looked at each other as if to say “what was THAT!” But it was amazing. That mist, that heady, thick, 60,000 year old mist that descends on me whenever I come to Tjala – that mist that reminds me that I’m surrounded by giants. By important women with critical information to share – that mist that reminds me how small I really am – cleared just enough for me to  wonder if those women, these giants; if they want young artists to stand on their shoulders every now and then, so that our stories continue to be told, long after they’re gone. I may not have a chance at winning- but right then, that moment, that feeling of acceptance and inclusion – was worth more to me than any award. And that’s what I’ll take with me from this experience more than anything else. 

   

   

Tjala

Okay so a couple of weeks ago, the Director of Tjala Arts contacted me, asking me if I was keen to come and work on the studio floor supporting the Elder women while she was in Sydney. I can’t tell you what a massive deal this is. Tjala Arts is one of the top art studios in the world. It’s a world renowned arts centre and many of the artists there are massive names, both in Aboriginal Art, and mainstream arts in general. The artists at Tjala have work in France, New York… You get the picture, it’s pretty massive. So I read this message on Facebook with a sharp intake of breath! For me, a no-name Aboriginal Artist who has only recently discovered her family – for me to sit with, make kapati for (cup-a-tea – I love these Anangu words that are just Ananguasised versions of English words!) fetch paint, brushes, edge canvases…. It’s literally a dream come true. So each day I threw Emmeline up on my back and went to work! It was during this week that my family came to find me – when I first stepped with trepidation through that hallowed, paint-splattered door, the women looked up at me – and then spoke amongst themselves. They knew exactly who I was. They probably knew more about me than I do! Early on, I heard mutterings of “kami” and “tjamu” (grandmother and grandfather). It turns out that many of these women are my relations. I have the blood of these amazing women – culturally strong, gifted artists – in my veins. That mist – that mist that feels like I have the weight of 60,000 years of culture and history descended on me again. It was an incredible week – I got to watch and learn from these women – an opportunity that many would give their right arm for. It was also so wonderful to develop a relationship with the Director of the centre. And it’s on that note that leads me to where I am right this second. Sitting on the step outside my house. It’s 10pm and it’s still at least 35 degrees. The residual heat of the day lingers, I’m listening to the howl of distant dingoes (there’s been a lot of that lately! I hope it’s mating season!) and the smell of paint and gesso is stuck in my nostrils. A couple of days ago I was standing in the art centre with Skye; “have you got a piece in for the Telstra Prize?” I was dumbfounded: “pfft! No! Of course not!”. The Telstra prize is probably the biggest prize in Aboriginal Art – the winners are artists whose work fetches tens of thousands of dollars. “You should! We always put emerging artists in! I’ll stretch you up some Belgian Linen! What size do you want?!” I was so taken aback that I was all “oh how about this?” Without really thinking – and now I have butterflies just thinking about the number of people that might see my work. Surely I have zero chance of actually winning – but what have I got to loose, right? So I’m sitting here waiting for my piece to dry… Wish me luck! 

scorched earth

I went for a walk today. Sounds innocuous enough, right? Wrong. It didn’t seem terribly warm to me, maybe low 30’s? so I popped Emmeline up on my back and called the dogs, and we set off. Amata Community is set in a valley, surrounded by what is known as the Musgrave Ranges. I’m not sure what it’s called in Pitjantjatjara, and seeing as though it’s a sacred men’s place in Anangu culture, I probably won’t be likely to ever find out. It’s such a sacred place, that it’s completely off limits to Piranpa (whitefulla), and many Anangu. Sometimes I get nervous if I even stare out to the west for too long. I only just got accepted by the Anangu, the last thing I want to do is break Anangu Law! There’s even some question about the Western Range being captured in photographs – which is tricky, because the Ranges are so imposing, that you can barely take a photo in Amata that doesn’t have the Ranges in them. Fortunately I checked with a friend who’s a respected community member (let the record show!) so I can share some photos with you. So the four of us trudged out to the eastern hills instead – which is where lots of people do their walking. And for the inherently lazy like me, these hills are significantly smaller. So out past the cop shop we go (the compound as I call it – because that’s exactly what it is. Ironically as I did this, a local kid roared past on his new dirt bike, at obscene speed, at deafening sound and spewing dust in his wake. This kid is 15 years old, so too young to have his licence. He’s also been driving his pink (which he insists is faded red) Hyundai excel around town for long enough for me to know that the police here really don’t care about what’s happening in the community. Or maybe it’s easier to just turn a blind eye? It can’t be an easy job, and I’m not sure I have a solution. Perhaps they view it the same way I sometimes view parenting, in that sometimes you need to just pick your battles?) I ponder this as I walk along the main road past Amata community, that continues along to a T junction to the two major Australian Highways through Central Australia. The road travels between this gap between two hills. One hill is called ‘Telstra Hill’. Now there might be some legend about Lord Telstra and his faithful horse discovering this fabled hill, but I reckon it’s got more to do with the fact that at the top of the hill is a phone tower, and sadly Telstra is all we can get here. The other, I’m not sure if it has a name, but it has a nice trail over it and back, and this is where I was headed. I was about a third of the way up, and my feet started to feel uncomfortably warm. I was wearing canvas shoes – the folly of which I realised as soon as I embarked up the steep rocky path – despite the air not feeling particularly hot, the ground was burning! And either I was stepping directly on each and every pointed rock that was jutting up at an awkward angle, or the soles of these shoes were uncomfortably thin. I think it was a combination of the two. About halfway up I considered turning back to change my shoes. But the thought of walking home only to turn around and walk back made me loose the will to live. And let’s be real – I wouldn’t be coming back. So onwards I walked and warmer it got! Apparently I was wearing shoes made of… I dunno, iron or something that conducts heat really well I guess – Because my feet were in fire! And every one of those awful, jutty-outty rocks were prodding my poor, scalded feet. Again I thought about turning back, but then I thought: “oh nah it’ll be okay – because just up and over the hill it becomes really sandy and that will be easier because it’ll just be hot rather than heat + pointy rocks!” Yeah. No. So I made it over the hill and to the promised sands… And it was hotter! Yep, for some reason that was probably explained to me in high school physics – it was unbearably hot. And being so hot, sinking into the soft sand meant that I was in contact in with the hot sand for longer! You know that feeling when you plunge you’re hand into a sink full of too-hot dishwater and get that OW THAT’S HOT moment and then it goes away? That. With every step. So I tried to walk on the harder edge of the track, but even that was hot. There I was, quick-stepping it down the hill, walking on the outside edge of my feet like some sort of confused ballerina. I looked up to see what the dogs were doing, and despite being complete and utter idiots, they had a novel approach; they were sprinting from tree to tree, sitting down to wait for me in the shade, before sprinting to the next tree. Meanwhile I was limping down on blackened, charred stumps. But at least I had a slither of rubber between my feet and the earth – those poor pups had nothing! I got home, and wordlessly went and poured water into a bucket and plunged my poor, scalded feet into water and sighed. I looked down, fully expecting to see my tarsal bones. Of course all I saw were the soles of my dirty, cracked feet. Not even a blister. And my ancestors have walked these lands in BARE FEET for the last 60,000 years.

I’m in awe of that.

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Home

I’m welling up with tears as I write this. I’m shoving random items at the baby to keep her happy long enough to get this down in words. I haven’t been writing much – I’ve got so much to fill you all in on! But today something extraordinary happened. Something life changing. My family found me. You recall my grandmother was removed as part of The Stolen Generation? She was the product of an encounter between a stockman and an Anangu woman and as a result, was somewhat fairer than her siblings. If you ever get the chance to read the Bringing Them Home report, do so. The atrocities that were committed in the name of the Government are numerous, and hideous. In some cases they would say “let us take this baby, or we will come back and take all of them (children)”. I suspect that’s what happened to my grandmother. I’ve been working at Tjala Art Centre (long story – fill you in later!) and here I was, Monday morning. It was a public holiday and the centre was quieter than normal. An Anangu woman with bright, dyed red hair, and a Malu Wipu (kangaroo tail) slung over one shoulder comes in just as I’m thinning out some paint for one of the Artists. “Your family is here – they’re looking for you”. I assumes she means my husband and the kids. I go outside and there’s a van full of Anangu there. “You wanted to find your family – they come here from Ayres Rock”. I’m confused. I don’t know how long I stood there – but it hit me suddenly. She was talking about the people in the van. THEY were my family. “This man here; he’s your grandmothers brother.” It occurred to me just then, that even though I had known my whole life that I’m an Aboriginal Woman, that sometimes I’ve questioned myself. But now I knew – I AM an Aboriginal Woman. “I was telling my mother about you, and she knew your grandmother! She said ‘ohhhh! We have to tell them she’s here!’ You come out to homeland later!” I looked at the old man – my great uncle – and I gasped inwardly. This man, my grandmothers brother, is the spitting image of my father. The same eyes, ears, face. Just older, and blacker! He looked at me with anguish and happiness. I saw the pain of having lost his baby sister, but the relief of meeting me etched into the many lines in his face. I’m not often speechless – but I was. And I started to cry. The elder women around me laughed! Not because they were laughing at me, but rather sharing in the joy and gravity of meeting my family after so long, a lifetime, 3 generations missing from their language and culture and families. I didn’t know what to say. I met everyone and drank it all in. These people had found me – just as people had told me they would. I was accepted by my family, by the old women around me, as an Anangu woman. And I’m still coming to terms with the enormity of that.

Velvet Dusk and the art of Sharing

Something has occurred to me about the tjiitjii (kids) up here. Min, who has grown up with no shortage of toys and games is exceedingly possessive of them. And no matter how much I try and encourage him to have empathy, demonstrate sharing myself, demonstrate empathy towards others in the hope that modelling those kinds of things will bring out the sort of behaviours I’d like to see in my children, he still struggles with sharing. And that’s totally normal; please don’t think that my child is a horrible person – he’s lovely, and generally shows much empathy – but sharing has been a sticking point for him. We had been here for not even a week, and I was helping out at the pool – 3.30 rolled around and we trudged over to the pool in 45 degree heat. One of the middle primary boys – one who has shown a huge amount of kindness to Min and to Emmeline, always saying hello, encouraging Min to come and swim in the pool, always giving Emmeline a kiss on the cheek, goes and gives something to Min. It’s a car made out of Lego. He made it especially to give to Min. this kid, with so little, had made this toy to give to Min, who has so much. He who was overjoyed and refused to swim because he spent the next 2 hours playing with the car. (and I’ve neglected to tell y’all about our lack of television; it’s a long story but basically we can only watch DVDs, so we’ve seen the Lego Movie approximately 1,23455,0000 times so the lego car was timely). But it blew me away. And today, while I was working in the school canteen and Min was hanging out with the school kids, a different boy walked up to him with a handful of those freddo biscuits with the chocolate on the backs, and held out a hand, half covered with melted chocolate, and handed him two of them. Again, it blew me away – and I can only hope that Min starts to reciprocate. But I think its rubbing off; Ive seen much more sharing from Min up here in kindy than I’d seen down in the city. when you’re surrounded by kids that share reasonably well (I’m not saying they don’t have the occasional scuffle – and I’m not there the whole time) rather than 30 kids that don’t share well – its bound to rub off! Last night it was just the 3 of us; Matt had driven up to Yulara (the resort town at Uluru) for a conference. After the kids had been fed and bathed, Min asked if we could go for a walk. I said yes – dusk is my favourite time of day out here – the clouds roll in casting a purple glow over the ranges, and the air has this thick, creamy, velvet quality to it. The air feels like its exactly the same temperature as my skin, the residual heat of the day hangs heavily in the air. So we take Isaiah’s bike out and I wrap the baby on my back and we walk up towards the hills to the east, on to the dirt roads. Its early on Friday evening; lots of people are out walking or driving or hanging out in their front yards. Every person we see, Min says “this is my balance bike! Do you want a turn?!” it was really nice to see. I tried to get a nice photo of all of us, but dusk is also a time when the flies come out, and one flew into my eye just as I was taking it. Im walking through this idyllic dusk, wanting to capture it all, and this was the result! ahhhh desert life!

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Lockdown

The school went into lockdown today. It happens every so often; usually linked to violence and fights within the community. Basically the school locks all the gates and doors so that no one can enter or exit unless you go through the front office. Today it seems a crazed driver was tearing around Amata in a white car, attempting to swipe the truancy officer off the road, driving up onto the dirt “footpaths” – out of control. When the lockdown was called, I was standing in the school grounds, having just dropped Min at kindy which is a part of Amata Anangu School. This annoyed me somewhat because we had run out of milk and I wanted to go the shop. And of course its all about me and my needs – not about the safety of the community. And often the shop closes when there is fighting in the community. Possibly because all the fighting seems to take place around the shop as Its probably the hub. So anyway, I decided to chance it because I was hanging out for an iced tea (when you live in a remote community in central Australia in the height of summer – its the little things!) and the truancy officer gave me a lift. “Has anyone contacted the police?” I asked, “yeah I did, but they said they had other stuff to do around the station first”. That seems to be the norm for the police here in the APY, they just don’t seem to have the time or the inclination to deal with this sort of thing. “one time,” a school SSO told me, “I rang them when we were in lockdown and asked them to attend, she asked me if it was important, and I said that there was a man hanging out the front of the school with a machete – they just aren’t interested.” So anyway, the shop was quiet. Eerily quiet. That should have been my first clue. So I went around getting my stuff, mentally chastising myself for not having bought a bag because I was forced to juggle eggs, milk and apples. All of a sudden my husband comes rushing in and says “get out, now!” and I say “wait! I need this stuff – can I pay for it?!” so he relives me of my burden and we go through the register. “whats going on?” I ask. “people are coming with baseball bats”. So we get our stuff and head home – matt wants to walk me home. Outside the air is palpably tense. People are standing around, waiting for something. They are standing on the safety of the verandas of the surrounding buildings, under the pergola outside the art centre. Waiting for a fight. Even the dogs seem tense; jumpier and barkier than normal (it is so a word!), feeding off the adrenaline of the Anangu around them. We hurry home, keeping our heads down. Skip ahead 4.5 hours and I realise that in my haste I forgot some things. I strap both kids (yep – I’m the crazy baby-wearing lady, tandem wearing my kids. In my defence, the three-corner-jacks had put punctures in all three of our prams tyres, so I couldn’t take that, and Min gets tired legs) so I walk to the school. I see some Anangu I know so I ask them if its safe to go to the shop and has the fight finished. They said they thought so, and when I called into the school, they were no-longer in lockdown. I get to the shop and the Anangu woman working there told me that pretty much just as I’d decided to venture out, the fight had started again, or perhaps it was a new fight. “if they bring the fight to the shop, the shop will close.” But because it was open she told me to go ahead and get what I needed. I grabbed the remaining things I needed and came back out. People were heading in swarms towards the area between the pool and the clinic. All the camp dogs were barking and getting into dog-fights, kicking up dust in their wake. The Anangu woman who served me followed me out. “Go watch the fight!” she says. I walk back towards school and our house and I see two older women holding sticks and pieces of timber attacking eachother. One falls on the ground and people rush to help and defend her. It was a frightening and sickening display. My inner emergency nurse wanted to rush over and render assistance, but with two kids strapped to me, I didn’t want to endanger them. Then I see the school troupy hurtling towards me. It was Matt coming to pick me up. “what the hell are you doing? Why didn’t you just stay home??!” “I thought it was safe! You weren’t in lockdown!” I say, meekly – he’s right to be pissed. “Well we weren’t, but then the fighting started up again at the back of the school! Aboriginal people are very passionate! Well some are..” he looks at me askance as he pulls up outside our house. “whats that supposed to mean?!” I demand in mock outrage. “That’s the second time had to save you today!” he says, half smiling. “I can handle myself!” I say, puffing myself up (with a baby on my front and a pre-schooler on my back!). “can we go swimming later do you think?” I ask, half joking. “the fight is right near the pool! We are trying to work out how on earth we can get out kids out!! –I have to go!!”. He drives off, and I pop my bags down to open the door. I put the kids down and grab Min a drink. It was then that I remember my discarded bags. I go back out the front to grab them, and my veggies are strewn all over the front yard! Those idiot dogs!! I put my life at risk only to come home, forget my shopping and have dumber and dumber pinch the bacon I was going to use to make a quiche! GAHHH!!! Im furious!! Serves me right I suppose. Ill be keen to hear what happened. I abhor any kind of violence – so this was really challenging for me, and really confronting. The worst part is, that Im not sure how much of the fight Min saw – so I sat down and had a chat about it to see if he was okay and to let him know that fighting is really not okay. Its times like this that I have to really ask myself if coming here was the right thing to do for the kids, and do the negatives outweigh the positives. But then I remember watching Min and Shefalie running across the rocks, hand in hand as we explored a sacred site, and Mins face as he gets off the school bus and tells me how much he cant wait to go back to school… and I think, lets just stay a bit longer.

Snakes in the toilet

Today seemed like a normal day. I walked Min to preschool, I chatted to the staff and then I went home to catch up on house work. Then the phone rang. It was Matt; “so I’m ringing so you hear this from me first…”. Yeah that sounds pretty ominous, right? “Riiiiiight……”, “Min found a snake today. He went into the toilets and there was a baby brown snake in the toilet. He went straight out and told Tarsha and Josephine and they dealt with it; so he did an amazing thing. ” At this point in feeling absolutely sick. Not because Min had been bitten – he’s absolutely fine. Whilst I should have been focusing on the fact that my parenting led him to make the decision, rather than to go and look, touch, pick- up, whatever! He made the choice to go immediately to the teacher. And that’s pretty impressive for a just-turned-4 year old.  But I couldn’t move past that sick “what if” feeling in my stomach. What if he’d gone in for a closer look? For the record, my point of reference is my 7 years of Emergency experience – and even though most snake bites are either non-envenomated or “stick-bites”, brown snakes are amongst the most agressive and most deadly snakes. Baby brown snakes are even more dangerous because being juvenile, they tend to panic and bite more often and envenomate their victim more often than their older counterparts. So while I sit here, still sick with worry over what ifs; the fact is my kid did something pretty amazing today – and he helped to keep his little preschool mates safe too. He hopped off the bus and came rushing up to tell me about the snake! “And it was flapping and wiggling!!” Apparently this little dude was pretty aggressive!! So counting my lucky stars tonight – had he been bitten and envenomated, and being so remote, he may well have died. Just another thing that made me question out decision to move bush…. But there are snakes in the city, right? 





Min’s Birthday

Yesterday was Isaiah’s 4th birthday. After lots of treats in Alice Springs, it was a couple of small gifts, party-pies for dinner with a cake, and a few balloons and streamers; I still wanted him to feel like we were valuing his day and that he wasn’t missing out despite our remoteness. At Kindy they had a cake and sang happy birthday; it was incredibly cute to have 12 little Anangu Kids singing Happy Birthday – and there was Min, right in the middle, surrounded by these gorgeous little Anangu kids; he looked really at home amongst them. I was at home getting his cake ready and the phone rings – it’s Matt. “Reuben is coming around tonight because it’s David’s (Reuben’s son’s) birthday too!” “Oh awesome! I’ll put on some extra food!”. Later that afternoon, Judy swings by with some ingredients and asks me to make David a cake, which I’m happy to do because I enjoy cooking. Another thing that we take for granted is things like this; if English is your second language, you can’t necesarrily read recipes, or know what ingredients to buy or cookware you need – assuming you have what you need or have access to it at all. And housing maintenance up here can see community members waiting significant periods of time if their stoves don’t work. So Reuben, Judy and the kids came round and we had cake for both boys. I asked them how old David was. Reuben said 6, and Judy said 9 or 10. The fact is, is that time doesn’t hold the same value for Anangu as it does for non-Aboriginal people, or even for Aboriginal people that live in an urbanised setting; time is less important here. Matt went straight to the source and asked David; he said he was 9. The kids had a great evening playing while Judy, Reuben and I chatted. Judy asked me if it was going rain over the weekend, “I don’t know?” I said – I figured that of all of us her and Reuben knew the weather patterns better than I. A little later she asked again. “Raining this weekend? If it’s raining we can go get bush onions and Tjala (honey ant)”. Matt looks at me: “why are the Anangu asking you?” I felt so accepted; that Judy and Reuben valued me enough to ask my opinion about the weather patterns, even if I had no idea!!! “No, she’s asking you so you can look it up on the internet what the weather forecast is!!!” My heart sank, but we laughed! We’ve made plans to go out this weekend to Reuben’s homelands – and possibly to get Tjala. I predict that it will be amazing, whatever the weather! 



Alice Springs 

So we went to Alice Springs this past weekend gone. For a couple of reasons; firstly we need to go food shopping; we were running short of supplies here at home and it was costly to keep buying from the community shop. Also, Min is turning 4 and being the essentially lazy and last-minute person that I am, I wasnt organised enough to buy things online with enough time to get them posted to us (although Matt did buy him some cars for the slot-car track and get them posted – credit where it’s due!). We also promised him he could have Hungry Jacks while we were there. So Friday night we set off, we arrived in Alice Springs at 10.30pm – we travelled part of the way in convoy with some other staff – and good thing too because they got a flat in the trailer tyre, but that gave us a chance to stretch our legs while the men used their men-ness to prove how manly they are by changing the tyre. We women-folk were suitably impressed. (Nah not really) 



Saturday was a blur of shopping – we filled the car and trailer with shopping and supplies for school and home. It may be a blur because I had two glasses of wine afterwards, having not been allowed alcohol because the APY is a community initiated dry-zone; after those two glasses I was reasonably merry. Then I overdid it and had one more and felt sick so went to bed – it’s amazing how your body responds to something after being denied it for a while. Sunday we drove back. The poor staff in the other car broke an Axle 40km out of Amata and didn’t get home untill 1am! It was nice to get out of community for a bit, but I must admit I was glad to get back to Amata. We might miss out on things, we might not have Hungry Jacks for those days where it’s just all too hard and the kids are hungry, we might have to lug 6 trolleys-worth of food back to community, but I love it out here. 

Tuna Salad and Radio Controlled planes 

So our new friend Reuben and his family came round the other night; they came round because Matt planned to take the boys out to the airstrip and fly one of his massive radio controlled planes. They came early so I offered them dinner – it was really awesome. It was awesome to get to really sit and chat to Judy, his wife. A quietly spoken Kungka (woman). We spoke of her home lands – she’s from Maralinga (where the bombs were tested) and lived in a community called Yalata which is close to Ceduna – it’s also considered part of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunyjatjara lands. She told me about the sort of hunting that women do, collecting bush onions and tjala (honey ants) and that when the weather cools, that’s the best time to get them. I cannot tell you how enthusiastic I am to go out and do this – like busting with joy. I’m trying to contain myself though so I don’t come across like a crazy person. When she came in, I was painting. She seemed genuinely impressed and asked me about my technique. Judy is herself quite an accomplished artist and she says that I should take my work into Tjala Arts so that Skye can send it to galleries in the cities. She called out to Reuben to show him – it was amazing to have an Anangu woman who herself has a name as an Aboriginal Artist, respond so positively to my work! I was thrilled! We chatted more about art and life up here on the lands and then we drove out to the airstrip. The kids had a blast, Matt showed them how to fly before getting out the giant plane that would easily accommodate a small dog. The sun was setting, casting an orange glow over the landscape. I was surrounded by Anangu – who consider us enough to come and join our dinner table and take us to different places, to see different things. It was a good night.