My year in 60 seconds


Here's an edit of my videos from 2023

It was interesting for me to see the economy I got on my Youtube this year, either revisiting older material or getting extended use from newer jams.

At first I was disappointed at my output, but then I recognised it doesn't include some highlights.

This has been a big year in other areas of my creative practise, particularly curating exhibitions and writing short stories and winning prizes.

You have 20 seconds

Weird how it's already December again

Let's flock together

It was about a year ago that I first heard a new bird call near my home in Leeton

The noise was a bit like the Plover and that sounds like an angry rubber duck, but the one that lives nearby doesn't usually venture out of Waipukurau Park and into our street.

This sound was more like a bird making a Tiktok video about a disappointing takeaway meal or something, so it wasn't easy to place.

Then when I was out for a walk in Russet Street, the source became identifiable as this colourful blob made a comic dash across the bitumen.

A Guineafowl had arrived in our suburb and it seemed the most unlikely thing to cross my path.

Now I don't know much about birds but if I had to describe it then I'd say it looks like Roadrunner grew obese in retirement.

Admittedly that does seem to be a feature of lower-socioeconomic areas, so maybe the Guineafowl felt at home out here?

Often I see it hanging around these bird sculptures that populate one beautifully-tended garden.

Sometimes I ponder whether the stony-faced avians offer companionship to a bird that might've been dumped or escaped from an aviary.

When I lived in Wagga the Aviary at the Botanic Gardens blew down and many of their menagerie escaped into the suburbs around Willans Hill.

So I quizzed the couple who own the birds as I saw them tending to their garden, but they said the Guineafowl just arrived one day.

"Where does it roost?" I wondered aloud and the couple pointed to a nearby Hickory Wattle.

This seemed unlikely, since I couldn't see the Guineafowl had wings.

It looked like it had been sculpted from balloons and sorta sounded like it too!

Yet Wikipedia states these birds can fly distances and I began to look up at the tree when passing it in the evening or morning.

Recently I spotted it on a branch close to what might've been the third storey of a building.

Maybe I stared too long because the Guineafowl seemed to start making an anxious noise.

So I looked away, since I can relate to feeling like an odd duck in a small town.

Rest easy Guineafowl, we're all trying to find comfort and Leeton welcomes new settlers.


Totem Story

Just before Father died, he said I am Aboriginal.

All my life before then he said that, if anyone asked, to say I'm American Indian.

He’d say his mother had flown back there because she shouldn’t have had a baby.

So Father grew up in a religious orphanage.

Then in those final hours he told me his truth.

It's a truth I couldn’t believe.

Father always made jokes and played tricks.

He'd make a coin appear from behind your ear.

But he had no energy to joke in those last hours.

And the truth felt right in my chest, though it didn’t make sense in my head.

But it’s a truth I want you to know.

My father was born at the Mission.

They taught songs about Jesus and those deeds from the Bible.

The Priest would read to them and taught how to be good.

My father learned we are all part of one family and God loves us all.

He was told we love and help each other or there'll be trouble.

They were taught how Noah survived the flood that killed all the sinners.

How Moses parted the waters of the Red Sea to help the Israelites.

Father said his days were filled with hard work.

He had to collect water from the River and wood to boil it.

My father said he would get worried when the River flooded.

The River was dangerous and sometimes people died at the Crossing.

Father would worry that showed God was angry at the men who drank grog at the inns.

When he had to go past the inns, those men would stumble out to call him names.

Sometimes they hurt him and the Priest would say to forgive.

But Father hoped God would punish them.

Punish them for hurting the old men who camped outside the Mission.

Those old men became my father’s uncles.

They taught him the things that he was told to forget.

Things he didn’t teach me because he thought that I’d get taken away.

These are the things I’m trying to learn now to know my people.

Anyway, that’s my story and we’ll get to that another time.

Father said as a child he had funny dreams.

He dreamed Moses put the punt at the Crossing out of business.

Then those mean men couldn't buy grog.

When he got older some Uncles gave him grog.

It tasted like fire and Father worried God would be angry.

The men laughed at him and said grog was Jesus blood.

It still burned to drink, so he pretended it was good.

The Uncles told him that Jesus was a Christian word for their creator.

They told him it was everyone’s god and shared stories like those the Priest told.

How God came down to walk the countryside and feed all the people with fish.

"Listen," they said, "sometimes you’ll hear his secret name."

So Father did listen and he heard a name like a breath, "Jehovah."

Then Father asked the men what's our word for Jehovah.

"Baiame," they said, he's the same but taught the white people differently.

He asked the Priest about Baiame and was told to say Jesus.

So Father thought it might be true.

When my Father was a boy the Uncles told him to listen to the bush.

They spoke with the birds and said that he could too.

Those Uncles told him how to listen to what crows say to each other.

If you count Wagan’s short calls to each other, then you can follow them to food.

Their long sounds tease men, “faaark!”

And the crow will sound sad if you take his meal.

“Be kind to Wagan and he will look out for you,” they taught.

The Uncles told my Father not to make Wagan angry.

“That bird is still upset about things in the past and might take it out on you.”

Long time ago the crow was white and still new to having wings.

Father heard that back then Wagan liked to play tricks and the other birds got annoyed.

That big white bird would do silly things like hide other bird’s eggs.

One day they got angry and pushed him off a branch.

Wagan fell into a fire.

That’s why crows are shiny black.

One day the Priest said Father was ready.

He said he would join another camp and boil water from another part of the River.

Father was sad to leave his friends but the Uncles said "don't worry, we'll be nearby when you need us."

A man with a cart arrived and they gathered his few belongings.

He was brown but his hair was too, not black like the Uncles.

Then everyone gathered to say goodbye and see him leave.

There were tears and prayers, then that man said it was time to leave.

He stepped up onto the cart and Father moved to join him.

"No, you go in the back."

So he climbed on the dirty dray.

The road was rough and the cart got stuck.

"You push," he said and Father got splashed with mud by the horses.

They travelled for hours and the path led out of the bush and into green paddocks.

Father asked "Whose land is this?"

"It's your new master's land," he was told.

My father saw there was a lot of land and wondered if he could get some too.

They travelled further and the green paddocks had fences.

Then the fences held sheep.

After a while they arrived at a big house.

It was bigger than an inn and shone brighter than a new iron shed.

They drove around to the stables and the horses drank water from a trough.

"You clean yourself" and that man pointed at the trough.

A woman came out from the house and spoke to the man.

She came to Father and said he could sleep in the stables.

Father had to find a bed that didn't belong to a horse.

And didn't belong to a rat.

Next day father said he got prodded in the dark.

A woman was there.

The woman showed where there was water in a nearby creek and told him to bring it to the house.

Father jokes, "Why didn't your husband build closer to the water?"

"Don't be stupid," said the kitchen hand.

Father didn't like being called stupid, but he put that away.

"What's a smart thing for me to do?"

The kitchen hand waved her hand toward the paddocks, "If you can get rid of the rabbits then you'll be rewarded."

Father knew the rabbits were good to eat, so there must be a way to catch them.

After all, the Uncles told him ways that Baiame could trap the mighty Cod in the Rivers.

He decided to ask them and told Dyirri Dyirri that he needed them to visit.

That Willie Wagtail did a little dance, like deciding if it was right.

Then the bird left.

Since Father told me this story I’ve learned something about Dyirri Dyirri.

You often see them hanging around because they like to listen to what people say.

Like other critters they used to be people, so they know our words.

They are messenger birds and can tell news if you learn their songs.

I am learning to sing and dance when all our people come together.

At corroboree I do their steps to scare little insects.

This way I hope to make Dyirri Dyirri talk.

Father continued to live in the stables and his days were spent carrying water and wood.

He began to wake early so there’s time to look at the stars.

The Seven Sisters reminded him of friends back at the Mission.

He listened to the birdsong of Gurru who chortles before dawn.

Then at dusk magpie shares what they’ve heard.

At spring he gave that bird scraps of food so he wouldn't peck at his head.

Father noticed that Wagan the crow would often try to steal the magpie's food.

So he fed Wagan too and the crows began to follow along that walk to the creek.

One day Father was returning with the water when there was a sound like thunder.

It was so loud that it frightened a crow and killed it.

As Father looked at that crow and then at the sky, a shepherd from Master’s paddocks approached with a smoking stick.

This was the first time Father saw a gun being used.

That shepherd said crows were as bad as rabbits.

"Where rabbits make holes that cripple old sheep, the crows blind the mothers and kill the lambs" he was told.

Father didn't say anything but was more careful when feeding the crows.

He was also careful to not stay too long at the house.

The Master was a pale round man who bossed people with a singsong voice.

Father learned what was his house and his land and his sheep.

He also learned Master would hit him if Father was sitting down.

So he watched the doorways and windows.

If Father saw Master he'd move faster to get what was needed.

One day the Master called him good and there was a bottle of grog.

He saw that good people get things and wanted to get more.

Eventually Dyirri Dyirri passed along Father's message for the Uncles.

The old men were waiting among the trees one day as he collected wood.

Father asked them if they knew how to catch rabbits and the Uncles nodded.

They wouldn’t say how but then Father gave them that bottle.

They were very happy then.

Father explained he could share more if they would catch all the rabbits.

The Uncles said they would ask around at the next corroboree.

Later the Uncles came back and said Gugaa was fast enough to catch rabbits.

Father asked for him to kill all the rabbits.

The Uncles laughed and said they would ask.

The seasons changed and the green grass turned brown.

Then there wasn't grass because rabbits had eaten it all.

Paddocks were covered with holes and the shepherds lost their jobs.

Father worried he would lose his job.

Then one day he met an old man near the creek.

At first he didn't notice as his clothes were the colour of the dirt and the leaves.

Father thought he looked familiar.

He was lying on the ground licking at the water.

As Father approached the old man’s head turned quickly sideways.

That man had skin that looked dry and then he sniffed at the air.

"Do you ride a horse?" the old man wanted to know.

"No, they don't let me on a horse," said Father.

"I hear you need help with rabbits?"

Father told him about the reward for getting rid of rabbits.

That old man asked to see paddocks and they walked toward the house.

There was a rustling sound among the trees as they walked.

It sounded like the dry leaves on the wind though there was no breeze.

As they stepped out from bushland toward the fence, Father saw that old man’s clothes now looked pale like dry grass.

They stopped near the stable and looked around.

Father was called to the house.

When he got back to the stable, Father looked for the old man but he’d gone.

In the distance a goanna was climbing up a tree.

He knew goannas ate eggs and Father also liked eggs.

A magpie pecked at that goanna but it kept climbing to the nest.

Then Gurru tried to grab the lizard but it held onto the tree.

The bird was angry noises but that goanna didn't stop.

Father watched as magpie saw her eggs get eaten.

Over the following months a stink started to follow the wind.

It was a smell like death.

Father said he noticed no new rabbit burrows after it rained.

Then grass became green and the Master’s sheep grew fat.

It seemed right to ask about the reward for getting rid of the rabbits.

Father asked the kitchen hand and she said it wasn't for her to know.

He asked the stable hands and the shepherds and they laughed.

One day he asked the Master if he thought he'd been good.

Master wanted to know what he had done to be called good.

Father told him he had got the Uncles to send Gugaa to kill all them rabbits.

This made the pale round man happy.

He laughed and laughed and Father thought he had done good.

"Will you give us a reward?"

Master became angry and said he wanted proof Gugaa had got rid of rabbits.

Then told him to go back to getting wood and water.

Father went to find Dyirri Dyirri to ask for the Uncles.

Near the bush he saw sheep that looked round like the Master.

He watched as they lay on their back and gave birth to a lamb.

Father didn't realise that he wasn't the only one watching until Wagan landed nearby.

Those shiny black feathers had flashes of green grass and blue sky.

As that lamb began to bleat, the crow climbed onto the sheep's face and pecked its eyes.

Father said he was scared and sickened.

He thought about throwing a stone at that bird, then remembered what the Uncles had said.

Besides, Father was angry at the Master.

The Uncles were also angry when they heard there was no reward.

They told Father you don't make Gugaa angry.

“He’s like those goannas and might run for a bit but won’t stop walking to wherever you go."

In the weeks that followed new rabbit holes appeared.

On his walks past the paddocks Father heard rustling in the bush.

Sometimes he saw shapes like lizards among the patterns on tree bark.

He saw sheep looking sick with bites on their legs.

The shepherds brought their sheep closer to the house.

Master's machinery rumbled in the distance.

Next morning my Father woke to the sound of Wagan's call.

He had never heard a crow laugh before.

Overnight the stable had become home to lots of new critters.

That morning Father didn't need to walk to the creek.

The paddocks near the bush were underwater.

Then the sheep moved into the stable.

Father heard his master had made a flood.

It filled him with awe for the pale round man.

The Master had brought the River to the house.

Those rabbits drowned in their holes.

But even with all that hay in the stable, them sheep still sick.

Their faces looked a grey green.

Father thought he saw lizards swimming in the water.

Then he grew scared of the Gugaa.

That old man would be angry.

Father wondered if the Master could protect him.

He wasn’t sure who’d win.

So Father began to put eggs around his bed in the stable.

And each morning those eggs would be gone.

Then one morning the flood left the house.

Next morning the water went past the stable.

By the following week it was back at the bush.

Then the creek began to take shape again and the River left the Master’s land.

Around about that time Father saw the Master again.

The round man moved slowly and his pale cheeks looked grey green.

A long line of sulkies began to roll down the road.

All the doctors from all around came to make the Master better.

Father heard from the kitchen hand the maid had seen a bite on his leg.

He worried what’d happen if he lost his job and his bed in the stable.

Father asked Dyirri Dyirri to call for the Uncles.

They said Gugaa had been busy and didn’t dance at the last corroboree.

Father asked where he would go if the Master died.

"You belong to the land and it will take care of you." they said.

He thought that, like Wagan the trickster crow, he could take food from the land.

After all, sheep were stupid to lie there.

Fences didn’t protect them and the stable wasn’t Father’s home.

He decided to be ready to leave.

Weeks later the Master died.

Everyone in the house had to wear black.

They were all sad but Father was happy.

He thought those new clothes made him look like a crow.

Everyone in town went to church to see Master lying in a coffin.

All the doctors too and they argued about that mark on his leg.

All the people agreed he was powerful and he had punished rabbits.

Everyone lined up and walked to his coffin.

They all looked like sheep walking up to a water trough.

Father went outside so he could laugh.

There he saw Gugaa.

The old man stood at the gates.

He was sniffing toward the church.

Father said he asked Gugaa if he had killed the Master.

The old man smiled and his blue tongue licked his lips.

“How about that reward you owe me,” he hissed.

Father said he was sorry.

"Let me give you something," he told Gugaa.

And reached behind one of the old man's small ears to draw something from near his wrinkled neck.

It was an egg.



One of the fun things about working in an open-air museum is the opportunity to be outdoors

I get to observe the changing seasons through shadows playing on fog, deafening cicadas, the puffs of pine spores and the songs of birds.

I've started a playlist for my favourite avian videos, see here.

Spooky story

Sharing my wind organs again this week


My daughter took a liking to the film Arrival, so I took that opportunity to give her this book with the story it was based on as a present

For a couple of years it sat on her shelf, until recently she started reading books again and opened this one.

It was funny that she didn't notice it was a collection of short stories and began to ponder how the Tower of Babel setting in the first chapter related to the film!

She finished the book while I was away and acknowledged that she wouldn't normally read sci-fi but found many of the ideas interesting.

Railway Hotel


Just got home from a residency at the Railway Hotel in Stuart Town

While I was there I heard this birdsong that I couldn't place, so I made a song to remind myself and to show some of my creative practice. 

There's also The Zine from Iron Bark that I made showing photos and poems from my stay.

Lost goat

This notice in Stuart Town could be a cute short story

Kissing Point

Saw this sign at Hill End and thought it looked like they were promoting voyeurism!

Cocoparra Corroboree

An historic moment to be part of the first corroboree within Cocoparra in over 150 years


This will show the prescience of Roald Dahl's stories -- I'm going to move his books to my sci-fi shelf!

(Sorry, I know I shouldn't make jokes about other's misfortune but COVID policies are an even bigger and crueler joke.)

Griffith Post Office reunion

Retired staff recently returned to the counter of the Griffith Post Office and remembered old times

Shown here are Ken Harrison, Stewart Grimison, Les Morris, Denise Beale, Postmaster Jim Cridland and Helen Stacey.

Ern Myott and Jack Carroll were engaged on morse telegraph duties and they could not leave the circuit unattended to appear in the photo.

We encourage all former staff of the Griffith Post Office to reacquaint themselves with the former facilities and hope they will share their memories for our exhibitions.

Artist talk

The closing of the Ngurambang exhibition was a chance to hear from the artists involved

Peita Vincent took this photo as I discussed how my work in natural resource management inspired a prize-winning photograph.

Comments about the exhibition

My partner encouraged me to look inside the visitor book at the gallery and there was a comment that singled out one of my artworks!

Buckaroo Banzai

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension was released in August 1984

Buckaroo Banzai poster
I watched this film in 1987 because I liked Peter Weller in Robocop and saw it was based on a comic.

It blew my mind!

The inter-dimensional battles came five years or so before I read Lovecraft.

Chris Orchard profile

Chris Orchard is a multimedia artist who features in the exhibition Ngurambang (Our Riverina) at Griffith Regional Art Gallery from 1 July to 20 August 2023. 

This video was supported by Western Riverina Arts and Create NSW through funding from the NSW Government.

The Ganzfeld Procedure

From Dreamtime to Dinnertime

Have you seen the animation in the Museum's exhibition about Murray Cod?

It was produced by Aunty Lorraine Tye and shares how a formidable fish named Ponde formed the great river, as well as many of the species that populate inland waterways.

In recent years Murray Cod have become a popular export from our region as a premium aquaculture product, and the exhibition also details how these remarkable fish have gone from critically endangered to being stocked on supermarket shelves.

Marita Macklin profile


Marita is a textile artist who features in the Exhibition | Ngurambang: Our Riverina at Griffith Regional Art Gallery from 1 July to 20 August 2023. 

Follow Marita Macklin Bespoke Embroidery to see her work. 

This video was supported by Western Riverina Arts and Create NSW through funding from the NSW Government.

Mental metal

These abandoned metal boxes

They have developed beautiful patterns.

I can see all sorts of things.

Dr Greg Pritchard


Greg is a multi-disciplinary artist who features in the exhibition Ngurambang (Our Riverina) at Griffith Regional Art Gallery from 1 July to 20 August 2023. 

This video was supported by Western Riverina Arts and Create NSW through funding from the NSW Government.

Kerri Weymouth profile


Kerri Weymouth discusses her contribution to the Ngurambang (Our Riverina) exhibition at Griffith Regional Art Gallery from 1 July to 20 August 2023. 

This video was supported by Western Riverina Arts and Create NSW through funding from the NSW Government.

The crater in my soul

One of the questions the film Oppenheimer avoids is whether it was a war crime for the US to drop atomic bombs on domestic targets

George Orwell wrote that  "history is written by the winners" and few people question whether the end of the war justified the use of a devastating weapon like the atomic bomb.

I've been reflecting on that question during the anniversary of that watershed moment.

One of the most profound spiritual experiences during my visits to the Quaker Meeting House in Canberra was when an American woman felt moved to speak about the bombings. 

She was in tears as she announced her feeling of guilt for being from that country.

It would've been about 30 years ago now and in my memory it is when I recognised how the spirit moves one to testify in that setting. 

That day was tempered with an observation by the late Hector Kinloch, who stood in meeting to ask if anyone had seen the beautiful rainbow that appeared during the week.

Increasingly I find a spiritual gap in my life and wonder whether I should return to prayer with the Quakers.

Right of initiation

This detail from Christopher Orchard’s ‘Mirrul’ artworks has been on my mind, specifically the removal of front teeth

Detail from Christopher Orchard’s ‘Mirrul’
As I thought about the idea I ran my tongue over those front chompers and reflected on the idea of biting more than one can chew.

This led me to wonder whether intiation for Wiradjuri men was accompanied with a lesson about not being greedy and to think of others when you hunt.

I recognise that knowledge is not my culture to know or share, but I feel like that lesson would be a good one in a world with limited resources. 

Orchard's artwork is currently exhibiting as part of the Ngurambang (Our Riverina) show at Griffith Regional Art Gallery until Sunday 20 August, when there'll be artist talks after 11am.

Christopher Haworth profile


Christopher Haworth is a plein-air painter from Talimba who features in the exhibition Ngurambang (Our Riverina) at Griffith Regional Art Gallery. 

This video was supported by Western Riverina Arts and Create NSW through funding from the NSW Government.

Acts of Cod

Fragments exhibtion opening in Narrandera, pic by Western Riverina Arts
Five years ago the Fragments exhibition opened in Narrandera

Jason with Freddo, pic by Eden
I was invited by Hape Kiddle to develop a sculpture and we collaborated on Freddo Frog, which was my comment about how companies appropriate nature and that natural response of delight when seeing similar amphibians.

However, the anniversary is an interesting coincidence as recently I've been reflecting on the Fragments exhibtion that Hape curated as I've been focused on researching Murray Cod.

It's a long story, so let me try and make sense of it.

The fragments that formed the exhibition were offcuts from a River Red Gum that Hape Kiddle sculpted into a Murray Cod for the National Museum of Australia.

He offered big chunks of timber to local artists and asked them to use these for the exhibition, while he worked on the sculpture.

Last weekend I ended up at the Museum and went looking for Hape's Cod.

I wandered into the Great Southern Land Gallery and it was so dark that it took me a while to find the sculpture (after losing my kids), which seems squished in a glass cabinet with little detail (but that highlights how bad my eyesight has become).

My current interest in Murray Cod flows from an even bigger sculpture which resides in the museum where I work.

"Gugabul" was offered by Pete Ingram to be part of the Ngurambang exhibition that I curated for Griffith Regional Art Gallery, until we realised it wouldn't fit through the door.

Pete had built the massive Murray Cod sculpture for the Hands On Weavers and it was exhibited in Wagga's art gallery last year.

Since I am working again as a curator at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum, I offered for Gugabul to become the centrepiece for an exhibit about Murray Cod.

In recent years this vulnerable fish has become a premium aquaculture product and, depending on my route, I can pass a couple of hatcheries on the drive between home and work.

So I've been researching Murray Cod and they are fascinating.

Like Emu, they're another Australian icon where the father protects and raises their offspring.

These fish are an apex predator in rivers throughout the Murray-Darling Basin.

The Murray Cod plays a role in the creation of those rivers for many First Nations and the best documented example describes the Murray River, in a story that is told along much of its length.

In the Dreaming, the hero Ngurunderi chased "Ponde" the Cod and the bends in the river were created as it swept its tail.

With help from family Ngurunderi finally caught Ponde in Lake Alexandria, where the fish was cut up and the pieces thrown into the water.

These fragments of cod became the other species of native fish, until the head remained and it was thrown back to continue being Ponde.

So after five years I have a greater appreciation for Hape's exhibition and the way he interpreted the Dreamtime story of the Murray Cod, by sharing fragments of his arts practice to inspire other artists.

There's always a variety of meanings to take from Dreamtime narratives and it's significant that Ngurunderi needs assistance from his family to capture Ponde, as well as his recognition that you can't eat all the fish.

Colour of my passion

My brother has a pair of Sansui speakers in his living room

Their distinctive red cloth covers have faded to something closer to orange and one is positioned behind a couch, so I reckon they don’t get much use for producing sound but are supporting some furniture and stuff.

Looking at them I can imagine how the Sansui branding spins on a pin that I’ve twisted many times and sometimes withdrawn, then sought the hole they rest in with a mild panic that I might’ve broken them.

They once belonged to my father, so I’m sure to leave everything as I found it in case it gets me into trouble for using it.

I also know how the speaker cover detaches from the cabinet holding the paper cones and it doesn’t take much imagination for me to feel the texture of their cloth on my mouth.

That fabric is rough against my lips and gums with a bitter taste like dust.

The speakers are over half a century old and I suspect they had a formative role in my life.

There are photos somewhere of my baby-self in another living room at that point when one does a swimming movement to cross carpet while developing the coordination to properly crawl.

I can remember the sunlight streaming through the windows onto the bookshelves, pot plants and a pair of blue couches that formerly belonged to my grandparents.

When I did become mobile I am sure that I moved toward the bright red shape and the sound it produced.

When I look around my own living room I can see multiple sets of speakers, as well as musical instruments and the paraphernalia that goes with recording them.

I ponder whether the red Sansui speakers created my obsession with recorded sound.


Light at the Museum

I walked into a training session yesterday and overheard someone say "he looks like a curator"

One of the best things about returning to work at the Museum has been the feeling that this is where I should be working.

Another thing I like is this council have an excellent HR section.

Different councils do things differently, but the fact that I've done multiple training sessions and only just got past my employee probation is one sign of an organisation that invests in their staff.

One sneaky thing they did was to give me gifts when I completed that three-month probation.

I can recognise that unsolicited gifts generate goodwill, which is something council normally remind staff about for the risk of corruption.

The fact they are trying to use this technique in a way that produces a psychologically-demonstrated effect in employee behaviour is something that I can admire and revile in equal measure. 

That's equal opportunity for you!

Return to portals

This is one of those Saturn Returns stories and begins with a dream in 2016

I had begun work as a curator and fell into a swine flu fever.

There was one sleep where I was walking among River Red Gums and saw human-shaped scars on the trunks, then realised people had gone through these doorways.

About a month later I saw this painting by Veronica Collins at Griffith Regional Art Gallery called 'Through the Port Holes' and spoke with Ray Wholohan about inviting her to be part of an exhibition.

We spoke about the theme of relationships to the Riverina and she sent a letter of support.

When I told her about my dream, she laughed and said "You've been visiting my world."

It was thrilling to see her painting hanging in the Ngurambang exhibition and I hope it's the first thing you'll see when you enter the Gallery, from Wednesdays to Sundays until 20 August.

Something fishy

My museum has landed a whopping great big new exhibition!

Murray Cod are one of the largest freshwater fish in the world and an apex predator in the waterways where they live.

"Gugabul" is an impressive representation of this species and was created by the Hands On Weavers with artists Peter Ingram and Shelby-Rae Lyons-Kschenka.

Their sculpture is accompanied with a colourful animation produced by Aunty Lorraine Tye that shows a Dreamtime legend from along the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers.

This exhibition shares a variety of perspectives on Murray Cod, as well as discussing First Nations and European fishing practices.

You can also read observations from John Oxley, Charles Sturt and Mary Gilmore, as well as learning why these fish make great fathers.

In recent years Murray Cod have become a premium aquaculture product that’s grown in our region and one that has developed from the research of John Lake, who the Narrandera Fisheries Centre is named after.

Come and meet Gugabul in the Irrigation Museum building at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum.

Jo will share insights at Griffith Gallery

Griffith Regional Art Gallery will host artist Jo Roberts during the Ngurambang exhibition, who will offer a school holiday activity during the opening weeks

Jo Roberts is an emerging artist based in Leeton and this exhibition will be the first time her art has appeared in the Gallery.

Her enthusiasm for the opportunity is clearly evident in the time and preparations she is planning as part of the Ngurambang exhibition.

"I've been working on a series of activities for all ages and it will be good to bring these to Griffith's gallery," said Ms Roberts.

On Wednesday mornings during the school holidays Jo will be sharing the Beak Technique activity developed by Red Earth Ecology.

This activity promotes an understanding of the relationships between habitat and bird diets by discussing different species and their beak shapes.

"We'll be looking at the local species to learn what plants will bring your favourite birds into your backyard."

The worksheets are accessible to all ages and were developed through consultation with the Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists and support from Western Riverina Arts.

"Kids are naturally curious about birds and our conversations will expand their knowledge about local species."

Ms Roberts will also be working in the Gallery on Wednesdays throughout the exhibition to provide insight into how her artwork facilitates an innovative investigation of history.

Her artwork "Geo/graphology" uses the cut-up technique to gain a new perspective on text records and the landscape.

"I'm using the Cut-up Technique, which was developed by Dadaists in the early 20th Century as a way of revealing themes and illustrating thought processes," said Ms Roberts.

"I am encouraging visitors at the exhibition to select text isolated from documents about the Riverina, then placing these snippets onto a map of the region to develop a new understanding of established narratives."

Ms Roberts is one of a diverse cohort of exhibiting artists working in various media to reflect relationships with the landscape.

The group have been sharing insights between emerging and established artists as part of an informal development project that included a workshop supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW and Western Riverina Arts.

The Ngurambang exhibition runs from Saturday 1 July until Sunday 20 August with Jo Roberts attending the Gallery on Wednesdays to share her art practice and knowledge of local ecology.

  • Explore Beak Technique from 11am to noon on Wednesday 5 and 12 July
  • Learn how the Cut-up Technique investigates history on Wednesdays from 5 July to 16 August


Can I waste your time? 

Come and see this exhibition!

I have a couple of contributions to share.

See the light in the land

The Ngurambang: Our Riverina exhibition aims to give viewers new perspectives on the landscape and to demonstrate some of the diversity of talent from creative practitioners working across the region

Griffith Regional Art Gallery worked with curator Jason Richardson to gather a group of artists from across the region for the current display.

"Viewers will find familiar scenes and they will also be challenged to recognise others.

"One of the greatest benefits in experiencing art is looking through another's eyes and this exhibition asked the artists to share their observations about an environment we all share.

The result offers insights into the diversity of creative practice across the Riverina while reflecting on individual interests in the landscape.

"The idea that art can help audiences build connections with the environment has been developing since I worked with Landcare and it's something I've explored through previous exhibitions, our not-for-profit Red Earth Ecology and also recorded interviews with artists and places," said Mr Richardson.

This diverse cohort produces artworks in differing styles and media to reflect their experiences, so the first step involved establishing common ground.

"We were supported by Western Riverina Arts to hold a workshop in Griffith late last year, where we compared perspectives and inspirations.

"The group comprises a dozen emerging, mid-career and experienced artists with various qualifications and we were able to share knowledge and build a vision for the exhibition."

For viewers the experience is rich with comparisons and contrasts from a variety of media that includes text, textiles, sound, painting, photography, found and manipulated objects.

"It was always going to be really exciting to see so many of my favourite artists in one place, so the workshop gave everyone a chance to meet and establish some rapport before they began jostling for space."

One of the first outcomes was that the working title of the exhibition was adjusted to reflect the traditional custodians of the land and waters.

"Pete Ingram's welded art practice is informed by Wiradjuri culture and it was his suggestion for Ngurambang to be part of the title, and we all agreed on the beauty of Wiradjuri Country and reflected on the impact of their management over many millennia.

"I recently learned the word "Ngura" means campfire and the addition of "bang" in Ngurambang intensifies that meaning to convey the notion of Country," explained Jason Richardson.

"Another of the artists is Associate Professor Christopher Orchard, who's investigations of the landscape have been a subject of postgraduate studies; and he shared that the intense campfire evoked in Ngurambang is not superficially a home/house or campfire, but home with all of its relationships.

"It's that idea of exploring the relationship to their landscape that's been driving me to seek collaborations with these artists.

"In sharing their Riverina-based practices they are bringing light from their studios that reveals new details in the landscape."

One of the first artists recruited was Christopher Haworth from Talimba, whose en plein air paintings soak up the dust as he records remnant bushland.

Leeton-based artist Jo Roberts brings a new perspective to local history with her use of a Dadaist technique that cuts and reassembles text.

Dr Greg Pritchard has been a prominent advocate for the arts in the region and he shares a project to record the length of the Murrumbidgee River, which has been developing and was part of an exhibition in Canberra last year.

"Marita Macklin's embroidery skills are blossoming and there will be much more to see from local names as well.

"I feel it is important to help connect people with the environment for the demonstrated benefits to mental health and to educate about the distinct beauty of our region," said Jason Richardson.

"We are all part of the Country and our livelihoods depend on recognising our role to preserve it for future generations."

Ngurambang: Our Riverina is supported by Griffith Regional Art Gallery, Red Earth Ecology, Western Riverina Arts and Create NSW through funding from the NSW Government.

Selfie season

The other week I had a feeling that I should take a photo of myself

It seemed a weird urge at the time, then I noticed a couple of selfies in my Facebook Memories.

When I mentioned this to my partner, she observed that this must be the time of the year that I feel unseen.

That interpretation didn't sit easily with me, but then I noticed increasing numbers of self-portraits in my Memories.

And then I began pondering the stuff my friends are posting.

What if this is the season for selfies?

As we spend more time indoors and have less time to be active in the sunshine, maybe it's a quick boost to mood and then an ongoing stream of likes from friends.

In other news, I have returned to Facebook to undertake social media duties for work.

It's still a battle with weird experiences like losing access to a page and finding all of the directions to restore it are out of date.

Yet there's still a massive audience to reach and increasingly I enjoy the opportunity to make seasonal observations about myself, as well as seeing the cute things my kids did in previous years.

Leeton Memories concludes

The final instalment in Red Earth Ecology's Leeton Memories project brings together two prominent local women

Cynthia Arel has interpreted the recollections of Julie Maytom in a window display that captures elements from her childhood in Stanbridge and Parkview, as well as her passion for Fivebough Wetlands.

"My interests now include designing for theatre so I'm treating the display as a small set," said Mrs Arel.

"A lot of what I've included are scenes from nature and the social aspects that unite people.

"I made notes and focused on her early childhood, particularly the red dirt and when she talked about Parkview, like climbing trees in the scrubby setting prior to the School being built."

Viewers will be able to listen to Julie's memories via audio-streaming linked in the QR code shown in the window of the Leeton Community Op Shop.

"I thought I'd be working on it earlier this year, but I'm glad this exhibition came after a history unit that I recently completed.

"Memory is not exactly how it happened, so I'm layering old and new. I find it interesting to think how memory works, the way things that mightn't have been a great experience become lessons of resilience over time.

"Originally my intention was to use chronological layers, but that's not how memory works. Every time you revisit that memory, it changes a bit."

The interview with Julie was conducted by Kathy Tenison of Storymaster Audio and collected details from throughout her life, including the Carlton Cafe that was next door to the current display and significant as the location where she met Paul Maytom.

The Leeton Memories project was developed by Red Earth Ecology as a way of bringing colour to windows on the main street and to prompt discussion of change.

"We're stoked that Cynthia joined in and are very grateful to the team at the Op Shop for the chance to use their location and its visibility within town," said Jason Richardson.

"This project has been a wonderful way to get to know people, as well as share some history of the region.

There's been a lot of support but I am particularly grateful for our host, the Leeton Community Op Shop, and great response from the community too."

One surprise was learning that the artist and subject already have a connection.

"Julie and I are actually related," revealed Mrs Arel. "Her dad and my grandmother were cousins and she went to school with my aunty, so the places she talks about are those I've heard about or visited.

The reframing of the familiar in new ways has always been central to the appeal of looking at art, which can also build empathy by letting viewers see through the eyes of another.

"It's an opportunity to think about things from a different angle and to view things from a perspective other than my own, " agreed Mrs Arel.

The project is also a platform to demonstrate a spectrum of creative activity in the Shire.

"It's important to present the variety of art as a way of showing what can be done, especially for younger people. People will say what they like or not, but it's helpful to broaden their view."

Leeton Memories is supported by Western Riverina Arts and Create NSW through funding from the NSW Government. 

Lend a hand

One of the fun things about working in a museum is exploring storage areas

It's even more fun when you don't turn the lights on!


Last year I joined a project writing about regional museums

I thought it'd be easy to put together 800 words about Pioneer Park, then worked through a few ideas before settling on one and also applying for the job of curator!

Orana Arts ran this project and the mentorship was stimulating, then they asked if I'd design a cover. 

I thought the image of a telephone switchboard worked as a metaphor for the connections being formed.

Anyway, it was fun to take the book into work this week and share my piece about Bagtown -- which was a temporary town that now exists as a recreation at Griffith's museum.

The Talking Cure

It was exciting to get a parcel today

Even more excited to discover one of my Junto videos was part of an exhibition in France!


Voice referendum

It's Reconciliation Week and as we move towards the referendum on the Voice to Parliament, it's disheartening to see the level of misinformation being distributed

One theme has been sovreignty and seems to me this will be one of the first topics the Voice will discuss and it's clear the referendum does not diminish that issue in promoting a treaty being established with Australia's First Nations:

"All members of the Expert Group agreed that the draft provision would not affect the sovereignty of any group or body."

Come as you art


Today I had an "open" studio for the Art Trail around Leeton Shire

I'd installed my Organ Donor sound sculptures in the front yard and could overhear a few comments from people passing on the street.

It was a last minute decision to set up a studio, since I wasn't sure I'd have any visitors.

A couple of people came to have a look and I amused myself by recording this cover of Nirvana.

Historic cars

An historic car club visited work and I liked the sense of how the collection on display extended out into the carpark

I often say "Step back in time at Griffith Pioneer Park Museum."