peter ADAMS dean CHATWIN julie GOUGH colin LANGRIDGE anne MESTITZ sasha REID ron ROBERTSON-SWANN marcus TATTON catherine WOO

julie GOUGH

some words for change 2008

Julie Gough works predominantly in sculpture and installation art. Her art and research practice involves uncovering and re-presenting historical stories as part of an ongoing project that questions and re-evaluates the impact of the past on our present lives. Julie is a lecturer in visual arts at JCU Townsville currently on leave with an Australia Council for the Arts Fellowship.

Statement

Think about this. You and your parents and their parents and their parents and so on had been living on this island a long time, as good as forever. We know what happened because it happened to us, here. Something unbelieveable, an attempted erasure in a span of thirty years. Any Tasmanians whose ancestors were here pre 1831 were involved somehow, with varying degrees (or not) of separation, with Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples removal from this island to Bass Strait. From that period of contact and conflict remain clues in language and in print of Aboriginal efforts to understand and incorporate what had arrived, and non Aboriginal unwillingness to accommodate.

These words for change reveal not only what kind of new things were arriving here, but also, in our haunted state of retrospect they outline what was promised for those observing. Place is tenacious, it always eventually reveals, its history.

This work is a kind of land poem about change and the irony of how silence can become its opposite.

[1] moogara (dog), booooo (cattle), bar (sheep),
parkutetenner (horse), parrenner (axe), wetuppenner (fence), ponedim (england), trabanna (blanket) leewunnar (clothes), mutenner (cap), lurlaggerner (shoes), panneebothi (flour), parteper (pipe), pyagurner (tobacco), perringye (bushranger), teeburrickar (soldier), linghene (fire a gun/scourge/flagellate), hillar (gun), lughtoy (gunpowder), warkerner (musket), parkutelenner (horseman), licummy (rum), perruttye (broom), tieridka (boat), martillarghellar (goat), worerae linene (tent), nyvee (knife), beege (oar), narpunenay (sew), kaetta (spaniel),
legunthawa (kangaroo dog), pleeerlar (cat),
noermernar (white man), devil (nowhummer),
white man (nonegimerikeway), ugly head (nonegielearty)

[2] Saturday 23 December 1830, The Hobart Town Courier:
On Wednesday, one of the most numerous meetings which has yet been held in the colony was assembled in the court of requests room. Mr Hackett regretted that so few efforts had been made by the whites to learn the language of the blacks … he did not think there were five persons in the island who could converse with them or make themselves understood by them … Had Van Diemen’s Land been colonized by the French the case would have been very different.

note: The language words above were recorded by non-Aboriginal people during the early 1800s. From: Plomley, N.J.B, 1976, A Word List of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Languages. Author and Government of Tasmania, Launceston.

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