Lost Directions, 2019
Concertina structure artist book, hand-coloured sugarlift, aquatint, etching on Arches Velin 300gsm with monotype cover.
Edition of 5 (2 sold)
($300 from the sale of each book is donated to Djab Wurrung Protection Embassy)
On March 19th, 2019, police moved into the central protest camp out at Djab Wurrung, just outside of Ararat, where the Traditional Owners had been holding their ground for the past 11 months. Major Roads Projects Victoria have plans to demolish hundreds of sacred scar trees along a proposed new route for the duplication of the Western highway, saving commuters just two minutes and desecrating the ancient, culturally significant sacred trees and lands of the Djab Wurrung people.
Middle camp is home to the Directions Tree, a tree that was planted with the placenta of a newborn aboriginal child and grows as the child grows, giving guidance and advice in times of uncertainty. On that day, over 100 protesters showed up on country, ready to stand in the way of eviction alongside the traditional owners. Lost Directions is my own account as a white settler and an ally, based on photos I took at camp that day.
Image descriptions in order:
Australia is a crime. The road leading to middle camp packed with cars. This hastily spray painted, red road sign seemed to encapsulate the anger and determination building on site, as a place of continued violence towards Aboriginal people.
Police confront Aunty Sandra. In the centre of this image is Djab Wurrung elder, Aunty Sandra, sitting defiantly in a deck chair in the centre of the road. A police officer asks her to move on, but she’s not going anywhere. Allies stand around and behind her in support. Over 40 police are gathering further down the road.
The Directions Tree. Wrapped in the Aboriginal flag, the Directions Tree is patterned with ancient snaking bark, signifying the changing path of the future and all of its possibilities. As the central image of the book, I wanted it to stand out as something much more significant and timeless than the events occurring around it.
Zellanach chanting. At 2pm the police still haven’t been able to escort machinery onto the land, and with so many protesters they decide to retreat. Zellanach leads the charge, pushing them back, while singing, dancing and chanting fiercely in language, calling on the spirits of the ancestors to protect this land and its people.
Escorting the police. Victorious for now, the supporters follow in the wake of the departing police, escorting them off country. The Directions Tree is safe for the moment while lawyers continue to try and get legal protections in court.
Lost Directions was inspired by the Djab Wurrung Protection Embassy and the incredible work they are doing connecting people to culture and protecting sacred land from the ongoing genocide of white Australia. Djab Wurrung is still at risk of eviction, 16 months after the blockade camps were first established. Thank you to Zellanach for giving permission to document my experience through the creation of these images. All profits from the sale of this book go to the Djab Wurrung Protection Embassy.
Lost Directions was made on the stolen lands of the Wurundgeri people. Sovereignty has never been ceded.