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Broken Hill

16.05.2015

As we walk into this tiny gallery for Aboriginal Arts and Crafts, we do not know yet what a good time we had in front of us.
We are astonished about the quality of some collectibles we see here. David, the owner, is painting himself in a corner of his gallery in the technique of the Aboriginal painters with acrylic paint putting dot next to dot by a little wooden stick. He did not look like an Aboriginal, but he must have read our thoughts. “When I was a little younger”, he said, “I was a teacher in a Aboriginal community in the Gibson Desert, some hundred miles west of Alice Springs. I became the first white man to be initiated by this tribe, and they gave me the name “Tjungarrai”. Before one of the wise men died, he told me to keep the story of the yams alive; and this is what I am painting here.”
“Oh, here comes Stag, he is the artist who just won an art price. The title of his awarded painting is: “My Life in the Bush and in the City”. The painting expresses exactly how Stag managed to find the link between the culture of his ancestors and the life of the 21st century.”
Later on, we dare to ask Stag, if he could make a living from his beautiful paintings. “Yes”, he answers, “but if not, I would get some sit-down-money.”
As we look a bit helpless, he explains:
“One day, the Australian government realized that the indigenous people should have the same rights as the white people and get unemployment pay as white people do. So one day an official comes to a remote Aboriginal community to tell people that they will get money for being unemployed from now on. “What do we have to do to get this money?” the wise man of the tribe asks. “Nothing” replies the official, “just sit down and wait for the money!”
Soon after this insight in how social welfare seems to work in western societies had seeped into our brain, up comes a shaggy character, introducing himself as Sunny. “Are you ready for the Velvet Revolution?” he asks us, not knowing that we are not Australians. “OUR COUNTRY IS IN A CRISIS”, he shouts, “ECONOMY, FARMING, CLIMATE CHANGE, AGED PENSIONS, BANKING SYSTEM, EDUCATION, …” Sounds familiar to us, we think by ourselves. “STAND UP FOR YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS! KNOWLEDGE IS STRENGTH – UNITY IS POWER.”
“Viribus unitis”, Nelly murmurs, thinking of the slogan of the first cooperatives in Europe.
“Well, sorry, Sunny, these people are from Switzerland,” says David, “they are sailing around the world.”
In that very moment, an elderly lady came in and just heard the last words. “Where are you sailing next? To the Philippines? I would love to visit the Philippines. I am an anthropologist and I have been all over the world. Can I become a crew member?”
“Let me introduce you to Sandy”, David interrupts, “she is my best commercial.” And as if to show that it’s really true, she says: “Have a look at these carvings, aren’t they wonderful, you must buy one of those, and by the way: I would love to invite you for dinner tonight, here is my address, let’s say around 6.” And off she hobbles. She is close to her next surgery. This time it will be her knee.
What do we talk about with Sandy, this half blood Cherokee, born in the US, who has travelled across half of the countries of this lovely planet and is now living in Broken Hill, New South Wales? Of course about Australia (“the truth is frightening…”), world health issues, social and economic habits and behaviour of Australians, the Bush family (not the ones from the outback but the ones from the Wild West).
And: Birth control, principles and methods; a perfect topic for grey nomads like the three of us.
Oh, happy night!


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