Desert Lake, Australian Galleries, Melbourne

Alexander Boynes, Laura Boynes, David Leece, Mandy Martin, David Taylor

6th - 23rd June 2013

Paruku is the place that white people call Lake Gregory and it is located in the Tanami Desert, Western Australia. It is Walmajarri land, and its people live on their Country in the communities of Mulan and Billiluna. Not only is Paruku of national significance for waterbirds, but it has also helped uncoverthe past climatic and human history of Australia. Paruku’s cultural and environmental values inspire Indigenous and visiting Kartiya (white) artists, they define the place as an enduring home for the Walmajarri, and have led to its declaration as an indigenous Protected Area.

Mandy Martin approached Kim Mahood in 2010 with a proposal and funding to undertake an art and environment project in the Eastern Kimberley. Mandy had visited and painted at the Lake a few years earlier. Kim was working with the Paruku indigenous Protected Area for several months every year, and agreed to facilitate what became known as the Paruku Project with theWalmajarri people.As several scientists,includingProfessor James Bowler, the scientist who discovered the first Lake Mungo burial sites inNew South Wales, had also been working at Paruku over many years, the intersectionsamong Indigenous, scientific and artistic approaches to the Lake became the focus of theproject. Jim Bowler is the distinguished opening speaker for this exhibition, and will also launch Desert Lake: Art, Science and Stories from Paruku. Editors: Steve Morton, Mandy Martin, Kim Mahood and John Carty - CSiRO Publishing 2013.

During 2011 and 2012 the Kartiya project team assembled at Paruku for several weeks of intense activity and collaboration with the Mulan Community. We came from diverse backgrounds, with varied perspectives and understandings. We understand the Lake and each other in complex, complementary and sometimes contradictory ways. But this multiplicity is a kind of truth and honesty about how things are in Australia now. We acknowledge the Walmajarri people of Mulan for welcoming us to Paruku, for working with us and giving us permission to make artworks about their Country.