Saturday 22 July 2023, Casula. Hear and see the composition Shared History, Shared Future and hear from the Central West artists.
Regional Futures: Artists in Volatile Landscapes is a state-wide program of creative development and conversations that places artists at the centre of a dialogue exploring a future vision for the place where they live and create. Outcomes include a symposium on 22 July and an exhibition 24 June – 24 September at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Sydney.
Artists from the NSW Central West selected to be a part of this project were Laura Baker and the collaborative pairing of Yanhadarrambal Jade Flynn and Kris Schubert.
The Symposium at Casula Powerhouse on Saturday 22 July will feature the world premiere screening of Shared History, Shared Future by Yanhadarrambal Jade Flynn and Kris Schubert, with imagery by Kris Schubert followed by a Q&A session with the artists.
Shared History, Shared Future is a music and spoken word composition. Coming up to the 200-year anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in Bathurst, seen by the Wiradyuri as a declaration of all out war, Shared History, Shared Future discusses this past and the way forward and the Wiradyuri concept of ‘dhullu yala gari yala’ meaning ‘to speak the truth and talk straight’ and is an exercise in Truth Telling and Nation Building.
The first performance of this work, as a soundscape, was at The Inland Sea of Sound Festival, Bathurst, (24 February), supporting Ash Grunwald.
The piece was also included in the Bathurst Winter Festival projections project along with illuminations of the art of Wiradyuri visual artist Birrunga Wiradyuri
Kris Schubert is a composer/songwriter, performing musician and producer based in O’Connell in Central West NSW. Yanhadarrambal Jade Flynn is a community Elder, an educator/artist/musician/performer and about to be co-curator of ‘Birrunga Gallery Wahluu Ngurambang, a Wiradyuri Cultural Centre and Aboriginal owned and operated art gallery in Bathurst.
“Not only is 2024 the 200 year anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, its also the 200 year anniversary of the formation of Australia’s Legislative Council, who’s first piece of legislation mandated that the British Army send a fella called Colonel William Stewart to Bathurst to start the ‘Bathurst Wars’ (seen by the Wiradyuri as their ‘homeland wars’). Stewart then formed the ‘mounted police force’ who perpetrated war crimes and other atrocities upon the Wiradyuri during and after the Wiradyuri Homeland Wars, the mounted police force would later become the NSW Police Force who also have their 200 year anniversary coming up in 2025, and its all related and linked to the killing of innocent Aboriginal peoples on Wiradyuri Country. The techniques developed by Stewart on Wiradyuri people would then be used to kill, maim and terrorise Aboriginal Peoples across the Australian continent as the colonising forces stole Aboriginal land.” Yanhadarrambal 2023.
Kris describes the process of creating this new, collaborative composition.
“Yanha and I caught up several times at my studio in O’Connell just to talk through the project brief ‘what does the future look like for your region?’ After a couple of great conversations the general idea of the work began to take shape.”
“I wrote and recorded an atmospheric instrumental work reflecting on the conversations we’d had, and sent it to Yanha to think about how he’d like to add words to it. He came back to me with some recordings of himself telling the historic stories of first contact and clashes, and the declaration of martial law in Bathurst. He also had recordings of some relevant well-known speeches,” Kris said.
“I assembled these vocal recordings into the composition, and recorded Yanha singing and speaking in both Wiradyuri and English. His powerful closing speech was the last thing we added. He wrote it on the spot here in the studio, and it perfectly summed up the whole process and project. It was an amazing moment!” Kris said.
Earlier in the process the Regional Futures team caught up with Kris. Here’s what he had to say then:
Tell us about the evolution of your concept through this creative development process.
Our concept moved from quite a broad starting point of wanting to look forward to a positive future for Wiradyuri people in our region, and narrowed in to relate more specifically to the upcoming 200th anniversary of martial law being declared in Bathurst.
We came to see this as a great focal point which let us discuss the past in a way that is specific to this region, and also to begin to discuss and think about what comes next as the anniversary approaches in 2024.
What experts/community members did you connect with during your creative development?
In my initial Expression of Interest, I proposed that Yanha would be the person I connected with – but he quickly became more central to the project, and it is now a shared collaboration.
Through his work at the university [Charles Sturt University] here he is regularly in contact with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students who are processing and coming to terms with their own thoughts and personal/family connections to the history of the colonisation of our region, from both sides.
This often-difficult work became the starting point of many conversations as our ideas began taking shape. Working with Yanha also gave the project the privilege of having a direct line to local Wiradyuri Elders (Yanha is also a local Elder), which has allowed us to receive their approval for the project and permission to use traditional Wiradyuri language.
If you were to tell someone about the impact of Regional Futures and this creative development opportunity on your practice, what would you say to them?
For me, Regional Futures has both strengthened existing ties to the local creative/cultural community, and prompted me to make new connections. My understanding of how to respectfully and appropriately work on projects which incorporate elements of traditional Wiradyuri culture has been greatly expanded thanks to Yanhadarrambal’s patient and gracious dedication to the project. This is something I really hope we can continue in future. The opportunity to apply my experience in song writing, arrangement and production to a larger/longer format of musical work has been very exciting.
Regional Futures is a program managed by the NSW Regional Arts Network and funded by Create NSW.
Images (studio and outdoors) by Zenio Lapka