'Allo and good day... greetings from lovely Sydney, Australia! It's hard to believe we're finally here, home of the 2000 Olympics, the great Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge. We have yet to see any kangaroos or koalas outside of souvenir shops and postcards, but we've still managed to experience authentic Australian culture!
One of the best experiences I've had this week, besides sharing in a great love of SERVICE and ART, is to learn about the Aboriginal culture. There are many tribes throughout the nation of Australia, and we were lucky enough to be in Melbourne during NAIDOC Week. NAIDOC (National Aboriginal Islander Day Observance Committee) was created to recognize the unjustice done to the Aboriginal people by the English/Australian government (very similar to the Native American situation in the United States) and to celebrate the culture of those indigenous people. During the week, we experienced this culture in a variety of ways. On Wednesday, Group B went to the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) and saw a variety of authentic Australia paintings, including a large collection of modern representations and reproductions of Aboriginal patterns, themes, and history. We also went to the Royal Botanic Gardens, where they held a 2-hour festivity celebrating Aboriginal heritage. We participated in a smoke circle, authentic music by Aboriginal artists and instruments, ate traditional food, got our faces painted with some of their symbols and signs, and painted pictures with ochre that we made ourselves with clay and water.
On Thursday, many of us also visited the Aboriginal Cultural Center downtown. They had traditional food, music, and dancing as well as a permanent exhibit that shared their long and tumultuous history and 2 separate art exhibits by modern indigenous artists.
All in all, the relationship with the earth and the connection between their spirituality and their art were very profound and inspirational to myself and many members of our group. So much so that our Experiment Group's banner (which will be on display at this weekend's Ignatian Gathering) has many elements of Aboriginal art.