Angie Martin ✿ At home on Country


12 June 2024

Guest editor Angie Martin finds resonance with the stories in The Land: Caring Through Making

This issue brings together stories about crafts that have been made from the land and inspired by the land. For me personally, as an Aboriginal person, the significance of the land resonates deeply with me. It is not only a source of sustenance, nourishment and healing, but also a sacred repository of my ancestors’ spirits.

Just like many, I seek solace and tranquillity in the embrace of nature when the demands of modern life weigh heavily on me. When I was a child, we would visit western Queensland with my family to spend time on our ancestral lands. I remember laying on the sandhills after dark and gazing up at an endless canopy of stars with the rest of my family. And when I was in my early twenties during an especially turbulent period, I retreated to these lands once more to spend time reconnecting: as I lay back in my hammock, I knew that even if chaos surrounded me, these lands would always be my home. I wrote about this feeling recently in a poem for The Rocks Remain, a collection of stories from Aboriginal people brought together by Karen Wyld and Dominic Guerrera.

Nowadays, my husband and I make it a ritual to take daily walks along the stunning coastline of the Redcliffe Peninsula situated on Gubbi Gubbi Country. During weekends, we venture further afield to discover the wonders of places like Mount Glorious on Turbal Country, Mount Tamborine on Yugembah Country or the Glasshouse Mountain on Jinibara Country. This intimate connection with nature rejuvenates my mind and body, and gives me the strength and clarity needed to navigate life’s challenges.

It also gives me the inspiration to do my own craft, which is writing. I do love the typical hands-on crafting activities with my nieces where we cover the kitchen table in pieces of cloth, glitter, pink cardboard, you name it, and see where the magic of their little imaginations take us (recently it was elaborate miniature pillows for all of their fluffy toys!) But I consider my craft to be writing. And in particular, fiction. Not only do I get my strength and clarity to create the plot lines and characters from spending time in nature, but nature itself often becomes its own character in my writing.

In my forthcoming debut novel, Melaleuca, the land surrounding a country town emerges as a character in its own right. From the healing properties of the melaleuca-stained waters, embracing Caroline as she wades through the creek, to the stoic presence of a skeletal grey gum tree standing sentinel by the roadside. Even the flickering flames of the campfire, casting a warm glow over Pa Quincey as he savours his billy tea amidst the red dirt of the old yumba camp on the town’s outskirts, infuse vitality into the story’s setting.

As I immersed myself in the stories of this edition, I could see how they too were deeply inspired by the beauty of the land. From Douglas Brodie’s exquisite portrayal of Louiseann King’s adoration for alpacas and the intricate art of weaving shawls from their wool to Aashka Jadeja’s vivid depiction of the treasures found within the House of Amoda at Rann Utsav – Tent City, Dhordo village, and Freja Carmichael’s musings on a gathering of weavers at Munimba-ja, celebrating the harvest of bonyi nuts. There are far too many amazing works to do justice to in this brief editorial introduction, so I implore you to delve deeper within. Savour the stories, admire the craftsmanship, and spread the word so others may revel in these captivating narratives.

Wayne Martin Maranganji ✿ Painting culture, painting country

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