Sunday, November 02, 2014

New England writing - Maynard on Lycett, Clarence Valley Women & Betty Mumbler's The Long Way Home

The AIATSIS (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies library facebook page is
a very good way of keeping in touch with writing connected with Australia's Aboriginal peoples. This post draws from the page to provide an update on writing linked in some ways to New England's Aboriginal peoples.

A new publication is john Maynard's True Light and Shade (National Library of Australia, 2014). Here I quote in part from the linked review.

"True Light and Shade is filled with beautiful images by convict artist Joseph Lycett that powerfully capture in intimate detail Aboriginal life, a rare record of Aboriginal people within the vicinity of Newcastle and how they adapted to European settlement before cultural destruction impacted on these groups.
(Worimi man) John Maynard writes an engaging short biography of Lycett and his life in Australia and follows this with a detailed commentary on each of the 20 images in the album. Each image is reproduced in full on a double page spread and then, on the spreads following, details have been enlarged to accompany John's text as he takes us through exactly what is happening in every picture: ceremony, hunting and fishing, carrying food (carving up whalemeat), land management and burning, interactions with Europeans, family life, dances, funeral rituals, and punishment. When you return again to examine the full image, you see it in a completely different light. John also includes written records from the time that corroborate Lycett's views."
Colleen Hattersley and Robynne Bancroft's Clarence Valley Women ( Clarence Valley Women Inc, 2011) adds to the growing volume of North Coast personal and oral histories.
The book incorporates interviews with nine Clarence Valley women interviewed, three of whom were Indigenous. Most of those interviewed had a very modest view of their contribution and were reluctant to draw attention to their own lives and achievements. "The diverse lives portrayed in this book represent a valuable insight into life in the Clarence Valley for well over a century".
Beryl Joyce (Betty) Mumbler grew up on a large property on the Tingha Road 12 kms from Guyra. The Dhungutti people (Macleay Valley) and her personal heritage fuelled a desire to record many hours of what the elders had to say. The result was The long way home: my Dreaming (2012). 
Betty’s Mumbler passed away before this book was published. She is remembered as a pivotal member of the community who was admired by everybody.  The Long Way Home: My Dreaming highlights the efforts undertaken by Betty as a bridge builder in the community, and the importance of reconciliation to her. 
Local writer Carma Eckersley helped Betty put the book together.The women met at a U3A Aboriginal Studies workshop and Betty asked for Carma’s help in starting the book. 
Like many of these books, The long way home: my Dreaming, had a limited print run. It's a real frustration from my perspective because it makes it so to capture and consolidate all the writing that has been done.
This is where the AIATSIS library is so valuable, for within its scope it does try to collect copies of all publications. Still, I could wish that there was a single point of collection for all the writings connected with the broader New England.  .  

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