It's Australia Day
a day that most that us here in the land of Oz scratch our heads going 'huh?'
'Advance Australia Where?' a collage from 1999
Oz Day surely must be one of the stranger public holidays.... as most little aussies have little clue what the date actually commemorates.... (but damned if any of us would ever give it up! it's the day for beer and bbq and bludging.... the three tenants of ozzie nation-hood!)
I've long held mixed feelings about Oztrayla Day.... as the direct descendant of not one, but TWO convict first-fleeters (and for the genealogically inclined - there were three 'double first-fleet' families.... my great-great-great-great-great-grandparents were convicts John Small and Mary Parker), I figure that if anyone should 'get' this day, it should be me (after all the day actually commemorates the arrival of the first fleet in Botany Bay...)
but it's hard to fly the flag of self congratulations when I recall how much of this (already occupied) land was 'conquered'.....
these thoughts have formed recurring themes in my arty work (especially around the time of our 'Centenary of Federation' in 2001) ....
'Citizens all' - from 2001
and it sure as hell must be confusing for many that our foremost foundation of nationhood was a resounding and stupid military defeat...
'Anzacs' - from 2001
Yet like most who live here, I love this land - even its harshness (anyone up for another flood? drought? fire?)
'In the forest' - 2001
I love what I consider are the best bits of being an Aussie: our egalitarian spirit and the 'can-do' attitude... And I have felt the greatest sense national pride in recent weeks when we've all seen that spirit in action in Queensland and Victoria (maybe that's what we can be 'celebrating' today?)
I think we should be able to own our unique personal histories, and have pride in our individualised conception of nationhood - irrespective of where we came from (or when).
'Immigration/numbers' from 2003
Yes, I feel it is imperative that we all acknowledge and appreciate this land's original inhabitants.... yet I don't feel that retrospective guilt accomplishes anything useful....
And neither does a stoopid, inflated, misguided sense of nationalistic pride that manifests itself as thuggery based on ignorance, prejudice and intolerance.
'here and there' (the story of the banksia) - 2007
Today I'm going to oz day ceremony up town (in a small town it's a great opportunity to mingle and eat yummy scones, jam and cream courtesy of the CWA ladies!).. then we are heading out to our friends nearby farm/forest for more yummy eats... later on FP will be yarding the last of his beefy boys and girls who leave our place tonight... and I will be making more things....
its true - we ARE lucky people!