Storytelling & Collections
Storytelling & Collections
The Map and Remembering Part 3
Video directed and written by Gerry Gill
Produced by Daz Media
Gerry Gill explains how this map has captured his interest and how it and other objects and documents held in collections around the state can be used to tell stories that are relevant to our imagined future.
The map can locate human stories of Aborigines, Europeans, both colonial and contemporary into the stories of the land told over geological time.
In many ways, the map is a mirror of our times: the map is a record of the “critical years” between 1835 and 1852 in which the dispossession of Aboriginal people of Victoria was allowed to occur; we contemporary people are in the “critical decade” for making the changes necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.
If we fail to act effectively in this decade, it will be as loaded with moral and practical consequences for coming generations as the moral and policy failures of our colonial ancestors was for the Traditional Owners of the land.
[Man sitting, old map on the wall]
I'm Gerry Gill, producer of this series of films and audio stories. They all concern that cataclysmic period in Victoria's history between 1835 and 1852 when Europeans from Great Britain burst into this part of the world and utterly transformed it, shattering Aboriginal society and initiating deep-going environmental changes. All these stories concern this beautiful old map that was made in 1852. I tell you about it in the first film.
[Close-up on the map]
Here it is blown up at twice life-size so that I can almost walk into it and see the detail. I've been studying it for 15 years and I still haven't exhausted it.
[Vision of a vast shed]
Last year, I tracked down the original of this map. This is its keeping place. It's at Werribee in the Department of Primary Industry's core library, a vast shed that holds the drilled-out core samples from mineral prospecting.
[Inside the shed, bank of plan presses]
In a room here, there is a bank of plan presses that store maps that go right back to the beginnings of the history of mining in Victoria.
[Man opens drawer full of maps]
There are many very precious maps here. The map's important to these stories because it enables me to locate the human stories, whether they're Aboriginal or European, colonial or contemporary, into the context of the much larger story of the landscape that unfolds in geological time. In our times, the relationship of human beings to the old earth has become quite explicitly the major problem facing the species. The stories from the past, the concerns of the present, and all the futures that we imagine or fear they're intertwined in really interesting ways. The past has come and gone, and it leaves behind all the achievements and detritus of past lives - buildings, tools, books, diaries, tunes, journals, paintings.
[Close-up on Gerry Gill]
But the stories about this past are created, told and heard now, and the stories that catch our attention and hold our interest are ones that are relevant to our imagined or feared futures.
[State Library of Victoria]
Most of the paintings, drawings and photographs from the colonial period used in these films are from the Pictures Collection of the State Library of Victoria. I've also drawn on materials from the Maps Collection, and on journals, diaries and papers from the Manuscripts Collection.
[Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises Pty Ltd building]
The custodians of Aboriginal heritage in the area of central Victoria is the Dja Dja Wurrung clan's Aboriginal corporation. They are responsible for the protection of artefacts and of significant Aboriginal places in the landscape, including its sacred sites.
[Various Aboriginal artefacts]
Aboriginal artefacts from Dja Dja Wurrung country have been collected by individuals and organisations and dispersed around Australia and the world. The Dja Dja Wurrung aspire to create a proper keeping place on country to collect, protect and display their cultural heritage.
[Close-up of Aboriginal Station on map]
The main source of information about the Loddon Aboriginal Protectorate at Franklinford is the Public Record Office of Victoria.
[Building of the Victorian Archives Centre]
[Extract of the Census]
These records include the 1841 and 1843 Census of Aborigines that show the clan and clan memberships of the Dja Dja Wurrung. They also include the surgeon's records.
[Old books in La Trobe University, Bendigo's library]
In La Trobe University, Bendigo's library is its special collection of old books that document the emergence of the regional city of Bendigo out of the dust, mud and destruction of the Gold Rush.
[Bendigo Art Gallery]
I've also drawn on Bendigo Art Gallery's collection of images of early Bendigo. Sometimes you go to a collection or to a keeping place to track down a story, but at other times, you can be researching in an archive or a library, or poking about the bush, and it's as if a story finds you. It's as though a story's called out to you. Something makes you hearken, and you attend more closely than you usually would. You feel there's something to learn, something to communicate, a story there that you can build on and elaborate and share with others.