Australian aboriginal heritage
The site where the SKA will be built in Australia is situated 700km north-east of Perth, at Boolardy Station in the Mid West region of Western Australia. Many of the artists have visited the Australian SKA site and have spent time talking with scientists on site, under the stars, sharing their stories about the night sky.
Though most have not lived on this specific land, they create artwork throughout the Mid West region to promote their culture and continue the process of teaching their own communities the stories of their ancestors, reviving dying languages and nurturing Aboriginal culture to maintain connections to their traditional Country. They are connected to Shared Sky through the auspices of the community arts organisation Yamaji Art Centre in Geraldton, Western Australia – a strong advocate for social justice and the promotion of respect and awareness of Yamaji culture.
Some of these Aboriginal artists are children of the Stolen Generations, forcibly removed from their families in the 1940s and 1950s and denied access to traditional language and culture during periods of institutionalised policies of assimilation. Coming together through their connections at Yamaji Art Centre, many of these artists have become strong advocates for the healing powers that art can bestow within their communities that are working together for positive change.
The experiences of some of these Australian artists resonate with those of the South African artists’ ancestors when San populations of the Karoo suffered from cultural suppression throughout the 18th and 19th centuries that eventually brought about the extinction of the /Xam language.
Shared Sky acknowledges how important the resilience of these cultures is to all human-kind. It builds upon the earlier work of the ongoing Ilgarijiri (Things Belonging To The Sky) project that began when artists from the Yamaji Art Centre who had already been painting their stories about the night sky, exchanged stories with scientists from Curtin University’s Institute for Radio Astronomy, that profoundly enriched each other’s understanding of the night sky.
It is our intention to engage with communities around the world to increase awareness of, and appreciation for, the contribution that these ancient cultures have made to our understanding of the world and to reflect on the importance of preserving them amidst the never-ending fascination for new knowledge.