The Six Seasons - 2021
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Aboriginal Nations Australia wide have managed and thrived off Country for millennia. The seasons guided what would be done and when. The intrinsic interconnection between plant species and animal species ensured sustainability and survival of habitats and biodiversity. Knowledge handed down came with great responsibility to guarantee country was cared for, for generations to come.
For Gunditjmara these activities relate to Six Seasons, not influenced by dates on a calendar but by observing changes in their environment. Other factors such as significant natural events, cooling and heating, water levels, volcanic activity and seismic activity influenced how management of country was carried out. In the Dhauwurd-Wurrung language these changes have been characterised as Pullapitj (Big wet), Karndawan ween-aya (Lighting fire time), Peep Kalluyn (Big dry), Kareeta-tumba-ya (Fattening up time), Bukkar yaiiawan (Flowering time), Barrakii (Drying out time).
‘Pre-colonisation, Gundtjmara had thousands of generations of ecological knowledge stored in every fibre of their bodies. It was stored in Mirring, (Earth), Pareetj, (water), Wurrung, (Language) and its continuation ensured by the Yarkeen (Dreaming/Lore/Ceremony). which was held at certain places, at certain times, dictated by seasonal indicators, such as plants, animals and fungus behaviours and abundance, solar and lunar cycles, and weather patterns to name a few.
Yarkeen is the Lore and governs how Gunditjmara existed as a part of Mirring and all other species. These key factors were intrinsically woven into everyday life. Not seen as a ‘practice’, but the norm, the way things were done, Yarkeen.
The activities were carried out by those who had custodial obligations and responsibilities, individually and collectively. Accountability regarding the correct application of Yarkeen was layered and connected by a symbiotic, reciprocal relationship between Gunditjmara, Mirring, habitats, biodiversity and all species.
Major events such as floods, fires, sea levels rising and falling, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions were all endured and forced and adapted approach.
The skills developed and associated methodologies as result of these events were integrated into Yarkeen. Providing a living and growing Yarkeen, that only changes to incorporate new concepts and better ways of living.’ S. Rotumah, Guditjmara 2020.
This exhibition asks artists to respond to the Six Seasons and acknowledges that many indigenous artists living on Gunditjmara country may be responding to the seasons from their respective country of origin.
This information has been prepared in collaboration with Gunditjmara community members, Ben Church (Winda-Mara) and references resources from Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation. The language used is Dhauwurd-Wurrung of South West Victoria.