Koorie Culture is Unique
Tim Church, a collections cadet at the Koorie Heritage Trust, shows us how Aboriginal culture from south eastern Australia (Koorie) is in many ways distinct to other areas of Australia.
-My name's Tim Church. I'm a Gunditjmara man from Heywood, Portland. I work here at the Koorie Heritage Trust as a curatorial cadet.
Traditional artefacts from the southeastern Australia, such as these shields, are different from other artefacts around Australia. They're good examples of the typical Victorian shields. You can see this by the designs on the shield. It's got the concentric diamond designs. The wood is a bit darker from here than around Australia. You can tell these two are parrying shields, by how thin they are. That's how they're different from spear shields. Spear shields are a lot broader and parrying shields are used for in close battle for blocking or to strike another person with it.
Contemporary artists like to come in and have a look at what sort of designs are on the shields or objects, what are from their area. More and more contemporary artists, you can see them using the more diamond design shapes, whereas before they could have used dot work, which isn't from this area. So it gives them more of their own identity of who they are and that they are Koorie people, and it's separate from around Australia.
A good example of traditional designs being used in contemporary art today is on this possum skin cloak made by Kelly Koumalatsos, a Wergaia/Wemba Wemba woman. So the designs on the actual cloak are again the concentric diamond designs. On Kelly's cloak here, you can see that the designs have actually been screen printed onto it. Traditionally they were etched in with bone and stone artefacts. Traditionally the color was crushed up ochre mixed with animal fat to make it all stick on and stay on. This cloak today is used in our permanent exhibition for people to come in and actually handle it and put it on, whatever they feel like really. Traditionally the cloaks were sewn together by kangaroo sinew. This contemporary cloak, it's just sewn together by cotton. Traditionally when it rained, the inside of the cloak was worn on the outside. During the summertime, the fur was on the outside.
This is a pastel drawing done by an artist named Vicki Cousins. She's from the Girai Wurrung, Gunditjmara area. This design is from a possum skin cloak from Lake Condah area. It's just one pallet of it. The Lake Condah cloak is held at Museum Victoria. It's from the early 1800s. It was done by men on a Lake Condah aboriginal mission. This particular design is based on the eel fish traps down at Lake Condah area. It shows the weirs, which were dug out from lake to catch the eels. Down there they use an extensive range of different weirs and eel traps made out of volcanic lava rock.