Above: Left, A woman’s dream, 1991, by Noel McKenna, from the Araluen collection was the catalyst for Jennifer Taylor’s investigation into what home means. Right: Nyinta Donal remembers Angas Downs by Jennifer Taylor.
By CRAIG SAN ROQUE
This is the full text of Dr San Roque’s speech at the opening of the exhibition, Dream of Home, by Jennifer Taylor with Tangentyere Artists, Areyonga Artists and Yarrenyty Arltere Artists at the Araluen Arts Centre.
Stay long enough
Sue Dugdale, on receiving the 2018 NT Architectural Award for the design of the Alice Springs Cemetery Chapel, said this:
“If you stay in the same place long enough you develop a deeper understanding of it and a more complex set of aspirations for the place.”
This exhibition is brought to you by people who have stayed in this place long enough to develop a deeper understanding …
In my work as a psychologist I hear many dreams. Many people dream of homes, places, country – dreams of home lost, home yearned for, home as dangerous, home as safety … house as metaphor and symbol. Neurologists are now confirming that there is a location in the brain that is concerned entirely with place, with geography, with navigation. The geography brain site is closely connected to feeling/emotion and memory. Home, place and feeling are connected neurologically.
In the Bower
I will not tell you about the works that you will find in the gallery, that will be your own surprise. However I would like to say a little about the method and about how you might look at this collection of works from the many people gathered together by Jenny Taylor.
These artists have brought to you their own feelings for home – their feelingful images of home as shelter, yes, and most significantly, they speak of culture as a home and knowledge as a home; for knowledge and culture and the songs that we carry in our minds make for us a kind of home.
So – this contemplative, carefully collaborative gathering is from many people who have painted their ‘dream of home’. The mindful collaboration among these people is the clue to the artistic method developed by Jenny and the artists from Tangentyere, Areyonga and Yarrentyty Arltere.
Together they have created for you a bower – gathering pieces, fragments, colours – as does a careful bower bird – laying those pieces out, delicately placed to attract your feeling to the nest.
The Place that holds
Khora/ Ngurra/ Apmere
In one of Plato’s stories a group of men are discussing the matter of how creation might have begun – What sparked the universe into being? they ask. After much argument and speculation, one of the men, Timaeus, observes: Before creation could spark there had to be something to hold whatever it was that was about to be created … before anything could begin there must have been something that would hold life so that it could begin.
Timaeus named that holding space at the beginning of the creation as Khora – the old Greek word for a basket, a nest. Khora is the place from which creation began. To my mind khora resonates with the local language words for place, home, country – Ngurra, Apmere. Creation begins right here, now and at home.
So as you walk through the colourful bower that Jenny Taylor and friends have made for you, you might find yourself asking …What does ‘home’ mean to myself and to my family?
And you might also remember that today 65 million people of the world are on the road, their many homes lost by invasion, war, encroaching desert or sea.
Walking and travelling is a human habit and so is the making of shelters and dreaming of a safe place to call home. A place from which creation might emanate.
On the wall in the gallery are these lines from MK Turner:
“What is home? It’s happiness! It’s the best thing. When our kids learn about their home, the land can speak to them. Even white people who live in this country, they love this country. New people are learning to join with the spirit of this country.”