The lessons from a tree take time, and requires more patience than I realised I possessed. When I first embarked on the journey I thought it would be a practical exploration, where I used process to learn about all the possibilities and voices of the physical tree. The twist to this is you can’t learn about a tree unless you learn about the community that it shares space with.
When I began to learn about the old tree, I became aware of the importance of the Bunya Tree. This country is Kabbi Kabbi (Gubbi Gubbi) and I began to learn a small part about the Bunya gatherings that are part of this culture. The history of these trees including some of the cultural stories and information about their destruction post colonisation, and other stories of connection all collected into this whirlpool of knowledge. All of this came together during a weekend in April, in the form of a collaboration at the Cooroora Institute.
Artists Ross Annels (Fine Furniture and Contemporary Wood Artist), Bill Dorman (Metal and Jeweller), Tim Johnson (UK Basket Weaver), Bianca Beetson (Contemporary Indigenous Artist), Mel Stannard (Contemporary Indigenous Artist), Jim Martin (Emerging Artist) and Anne Harris (Contemporary Artist) all worked together to create Bunya inspired forms. The weekend began with a session from Aunty Beverly Hand as part of the Language of Country. More information about this can be read on the Tree Place Website.
My own journey with the Bunya has just begun, and it will take more than one lifetime. Patience again to see and experience the seasons with the tree, its now December 2017 and there’s a bumper crop of Bunya Nuts.
Our family was fortunate to be given their first Bunya Cone, and my son had his first Bunya Tree climb. These sweet kernels are so delicious and beautiful; it took me half a day to slowly pull this cone apart, document, play and experiment with mark making and the different forms, and a very short time for my family to eat the tender sweet kernels.
Knowing that this tree is now part of our families lived experience, and the short window during the summer season makes it more poignant and special.
https://library.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Heritage/Indigenous-History/Maroochy-Region (this has a great reading list and links)
Cookbook: Parsons R (1999). Creating with Bunya Nuts. From Rosella’s restaurant, Bunya Mts National Park.
Selected bibliography of material on Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi / Gabi Gabi language and people held in the AIATSIS Library