These Lumachrome glass prints have their genesis in my relationship with two Australian tribal groups – the Bpangerang people, from whom I am descended, and the Warlpiri people who cared for me over the twenty years I spent tracing my family’s heavily concealed Aboriginal lineage. Their materials, drawn from Country itself, include cadavers, ochres, sticks, and grass. Exposed in natural light over many hours, these images honour native animals and birds killed on our roads. In making them, I am consciously engaging in collaboration with Country.
My Lumachrome glass prints explore the possibility of a shared syntax with Country – something vital and present, not inherited from tribes, not an anthropological abstraction – but genuine acts of communion between an individual and the land that nurtures them. These images are threnodies for fallen rabbits or birds. They are also an act of mourning for my family’s obliterated Aboriginality, for all the conflict and pain that has caused and continues to cause. We are nowhere people – uneasy in white culture and lost to black culture, divided among ourselves. The only choice is to begin again and negotiate new relationships with Country, new languages, and new ways of being in this land.
Dr Judith Crispin (ACT) is a Canberra-based poet and visual artist with a background in music. Her work includes themes of displacement and identity loss, a reflection on her lost Aboriginal ancestry, but primarily it is centred on the concept of connection with Country.