Page 3308 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 16 August 2011

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the Gija people from Warmum to Texas down in east Kimberly, of which Hector Jandany, who was a Christian, the tribal custodian, said—and here are the words of Hector himself—“The Dreamtime owl, like the Holy Spirit in our land, watches over us here in our country, in our hearts and everything. He cares for us all here in the whole of our land.”

Hector’s original painting is in the collection now of the National Gallery of Australia, but it was actually commissioned by Sir William Deane, a previous Governor-General of Australia, and his wife. Sir William is on the board of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. They thought it important for the centre to have interpretations and representations of Indigenous spirituality. If you have not seen it, this is a massive piece of art. It is probably 2½ or three metres tall by probably 12 to 15 metres long. It is made up of thousands of ceramic tiles. It was done by a firm called Mosaics by Morrisey.

Morrisey is a family. There is Mr Morrisey, Mrs Morrisey and three kids and all of them had a role in slicing up the individual pieces. From a distance the owl certainly stands out but, as you get closer, you can see the texture in the wall and when you get very close it is a very impressive piece of public art, but it is also a very expressive piece of the spirituality of one of Australia’s great modern artists, one of Australia’s great Indigenous artists. If you have not seen it, it is really worth a viewing.

I would like to thank Professor James Haire for his invitation to the opening. I just want to say that when you have people like Sir William and Lady Deane working on it and then Lowitja O’Donoghue comes and speaks about it and then you have people saying, “We’d particularly like to thank Jim Murphy,” it is another finger that Jim Murphy had in another pie of fundraising. Jim made a substantial effort towards the funding of this. I was very pleased that the centre presented to Margaret Murphy a small commemorative plaque in honour of Jim and his efforts in assisting the Centre for Christianity and Culture in their endeavours.

It is a great place. If you have not been, whether you are religious or not, there is some significant Indigenous art there now in the form of the mural wall. There are some large totems. There is a ceremonial fire. There is a labyrinth. If you do not understand a labyrinth, the tradition used to be that if you could not make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see the place of Christ’s death, you could walk this labyrinth and contemplate, and it is a whole series of turns. It is not unlike life: as you are getting close to the centre, it turns away.

There is a biblical garden. If you have ever wondered what all those plants in the Bible look like, well, they have got most of them there in a garden in Canberra, which is quite interesting. Then as you come over the rise and go down towards, I think, Bowen Crescent, there is a substantial piece of original native grasslands which the centre holds in trust for all of us. It is quite a wonderful facility to have here in the ACT and now quite a wonderful piece of Indigenous spiritual art here for all to see.

“Babies in Beanies”

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (6.02): Last Sunday I attended a very happy event at the Canberra Hospital on behalf of the Chief Minister. I participated in the awards

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