Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oztraylya day....

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!



  1. I love the works you've posted here Ronnie - beautiful! As for Ozstraya Day, it certainly is a day which evokes a range of emotions isn't it? In the park across the road from me, the Council conducted a thank-you BBQ and FunDay for people who volunteered to help out after the floods. Lovely. Except for the yahoos draped in flags who wandered noisily down our street. Still I refuse to let these extreme nationalists hijack the day. Whatever it stands for, its not that!

  2. I love getting these glimpses into your art, thanks Ronnie. Yes, our big day ... I've never quite figured out how I feel about it. I've done my bit in the past at fabulous friendly get-togethers at Circular Quay but these days I really just want to stay at home and make something. I don't like nationalism. I love this beautiful country with all the scary stuff it throws at us but the yahoos with the big flags are also scary.


thanks for all your lovely comments - your words are greatly appreciated xx