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… is a pathway to reconciliation, according to Don, a Noongar artist working in the NAIDOC tent in the centre of Subiaco this week. This was in response to my sharing the information that my church was working with Reconciliation Australia on a Reconciliation Action Plan. I was fascinated with the intricately patterned painting he was working on. “The dots are like people” he said as he daubed a new row of white dots against a tawny red background. It occurred to me what a peaceful, meditative process this seemed. Also central and recognisable were the birds-eye view of adults and children sitting in a circle, telling stories and passing on lore.

Louise, a Wongai woman, was working on a vividly coloured painting. The central pillar of red and yellow flame were bound on one side by an azure blue and the other by a deep brown. Dots were being daubed along the separation of colours. “Its a corroboree I experienced when I was five years old,” she said. I remarked on the vivid colours. She told how a blind fellow participated in some classes she shared as a student. When asked how he could tell colours, he said he could tell by the vibrations. This made sense to me as someone who is partially colour blind and have to rely on a sixth sense when matching the clothes I wear.

This took place in the first lunch hour gathering in Subi this week. Each lunch hour for the remainder of the week will see sharing of Noongar language, gumnut painting, bush tucker and tapping sticks. More important, however, will be the opportunities for passersby just to pause and have a yarn over a spot of billy tea and damper.

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