Spot Fire 1: Highlights

Friday, July 08, 2016

Whilst Sydney was blanketed in a thick smoke haze on 7th May, Spot Fire 1: Landscape and Language brought together award winning authors, cultural leaders, storytellers and performers in a discussion of landscape and language.

Here are the highlights from the first in our series of Symposia for the upcoming 32nd Kaldor Public Art Project, Jonathan Jones’ barrangal dyara (skin and bones):

Jonathan Jones interviewed Uncle Charles Madden about his experiences living in Gadigal land and his role in constructing the contemporary city of Sydney. Dr Clint Bracknell then discussed the revival of endangered cultural heritage in the Wirlomin Language and Stories Project.

Tradition is not something that is old, archived and locked away. Tradition is within us to unlock and perpetuate.

Insights into language revival were shared by Jonathan and Wiradjuri language expert Dr Stan Grant Sr AM. He was joined by Dr Christine Evans, Ronald Briggs and Kirsten Thorpe to discuss the importance of language to Indigenous identity and education, Grant affirmed the interconnectedness of language and landscape:

We don’t own language…the language actually belongs to the land we are living on.

The need to see diversity of representation in Australian schools was addressed by Evans who explained the core scope and sequence created by a group of Aboriginal writers to help Indigenous students maintain their Aboriginal Language pathways. Thorpe and Briggs reviewed their work at the State Library of NSW on the Rediscovering Indigenous Languages Project.


In the afternoon, the audience was captivated by a beautiful story about the creation of the oceans told by cultural leader, Aunty Julie Freeman. Bruce Pascoe then discussed the incredible culture of Indigenous Australia and the sophistication of Aboriginal agriculture based on his research as a writer, editor and anthologist. A rousing conclusion on cultural burns was delivered by Oliver Costello, who shared the need to revive Indigenous fire practices from a “place of intent and responsibility” to maintain the health of the land and the people.”

View the full program of talks here.

The discussion continues on the 16th Jule, 2016 with Spot Fire 2: Spectacle, manifestation, performance at the Art Gallery of NSW.

This event is now sold out but will be live streamed via our website

Photos top to bottom:
Audience members at Spot Fire 1: Landscape and Language, State Library of NSW

Working with language panel discussion: Uncle Stan Grat Snr AM, Dr Christine Evans, Ronald Briggs and Kirsten Thorpe.
Reading country: Aunty Julie Freeman
Aboriginal agriculture: Bruce Pascoe and Jonathan Jones