Traditions Known, 2009, is a work in progress which is based on an experimention with materials including plaster, flour, tea leaves and raw sugar and an already established foundation of working with basic foodstuff from my childhood. This work is at a point of evolution for me as an artist as I am reaching further into theories of colonisation, of Indigenous experience and most importantly, survival.
The title of the work ‘Traditions Known’ refers to the personal, political and cultural content of the work and traditions known by me personally which are limited to the borders of my youth in a mission on the South Coast. It is implied that what I know in the way of tradition doesn’t extend beyond the borders of mission life, influenced by the Protection Policies including Assimilation. I feel that it should be stated that these policies in our history affects Indigenous peoples now. I represent a contemporary voice that is disconnected from spirituality and is confronted by the culture of homogenised white Australia. I see the personal as the political as it is my right to my Indigenous identity and this work cements the claim.
Post-colonial survival in Australia has been the major influence for my materials and the physical manifestation of my ideas. It is the period of the post-colonial world that has established Australian identities which is so important in defining my identity. My work focuses on food culture as a major influence in our identities and a major influence in our everyday life. The rationing of food underpins the Indigenous experience in Australia and was the basis of survival in Australia as a colonised nation. What is most interesting for me is that this particular food culture colonised the Indigenous diet in many ways. The livelihood in the missions depended on items such as flour, tea and off-cuts of meat which assimilated and integrated into the traditional diets. Indigenous food culture has not impacted so heavily on European culture because of the imbedded Eurocentric views that impacted on settler survival in the Australian landscape.
Through a minimalist aesthetic and a performance ritual I placed the work in a grid like pattern on the floor, which also references earlier weaving works that I have created. The installation is a way of communicating more with less, survival with bare essentials and an environment in which the audience can view one of many contemporary Indigenous experiences.
below: Andrew Farrell Traditions Known (2009). plaster, flour, tea leaves, raw sugar. 160 x 57 cm.