Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Good Life

No photos for this blog entry, although I took heaps, as I'm not sure everyone I'm going to write about would be happy about them. I've had a most extraordinary day. Natalie Coulter arranged for Orlan, Raphael and me to be part of a gathering at the block in Redfern. Uncle Max, Alfred, Lily, Roxanne and Bonny were our hosts. We met near the community centre on the grass; it was the clearest, bluest Sydney Winter's day. Lily and Uncle Max danced; Alfred played Yidaki (didgeridoo) and Bonny played the sticks. I loved Lily's dance about how the emu got her little wings and her tail best.

Orlan was deeply interested and had many questions about Aboriginal culture. In turn, members of the gathering, especially the women, were very taken with her. So very many things were explained to us, and so patiently. At times the conversation was very dark - we talked about the Stolen Generation and why its members in particular come to the block when in Sydney. We were told about how the block came to be and the sorts of pressures it is under now. And yet the tone was also lighthearted, with lots of laughs. Urban life versus living in the bush - Uncle Max showed photos of his bush home (something less than a tent) & joked that he has no electricity bill there. Alfred and I had a chat about writing Yidaki music using traditional music notation. Afterwards we all went to The Royal for a late lunch (although most of them don't drink) and we talked about our children. I haven't felt so at home with a group of people who weren't my family for ages.

Hosting a celebrity gives you entry to another world. All week I've been out of my element - mixing with Sydney's artistic glitterati & going to fancy restaurants, cocktail parties and openings. That's been exciting and wonderful, especially for a shameless people-watcher like me. But today - sitting on the grass with the sun on my back, listening to the Yidaki's deep rhythmic buzz and watching the delicate, precise movements Lily was making with her fingers as she danced, seeing the way she became the emu - I knew what the good life was.

7 comments:

R.H. said...

When I start mixing with Melbourne's artistic glitterati I expect to be going to fancy restaurants too, cocktail parties and openings.

Wooh!- I'll be a feature!- the Liberace of Fitzroy!

Meanwhile I'm thinking up a Wombat Dance for a free feed at a pub. Any pub at all. Well you have to start somewhere, I take up a collection just to get a drink nowadays.

-Robert.
(poor white man)

(but respectful)

Matthew da Silva said...

Don't let the glitz go to your head, Meredith!

Most people are too scared to go anywhere near the Block, let alone watch dancing...

elsewhere said...

Sounds like an interesting meeting. I particularly liked your last sentence.

Ampersand Duck said...

What a beautiful post!

What did the group on the grass make of Orlan?

Meredith said...

Matthew, I'm happy to say that the glitz went to my head long ago...

@D, they were totally nonplussed by her, but interested.

fifi said...

Am I reading this correctly...
you had a get-together with a bunch of folks and ORLAN?
what an amazing experience, the whole thing..

lucky you!

erstwhile lurker...love yer blog, just love it.

BTW I have chinese students in my uni classes also, but have had a healthy dose of those who appear to have evry poor language skills
rather than the urbane lot you describe.

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