Thursday, February 18, 2010

bon-yi season and other such reminiscences

Late last year I caught up with a friend, Darryl Finn, with whom I'd conversed about local aboriginal history on a number of occasions. His partner Bianca Beetson is involved, among other things, in proppaNOW - a ground-breaking group of urban Aboriginal artists. This collective of significant and politically active artists includes Vernon Ah Kee and Richard Bell to name just a couple. 
Darryl was able to refer me to the most interesting publication of reminiscences of Tom Petrie that were collated by daughter Constance Campbell Petrie and published in 1904 from earlier articles published in the Queenslander. The book provides a sketch of the early days of the Qld colony - 1837 onwards - as well as an authoritative guide to the life and times of the Aboriginal people of this region. Stories are told of Tom Petrie growing up alongside aboriginal children and being invited to join them constantly, even on long journeys away from Brisbane. Given the prominence of his colonial family it is a remarkable story of a boy who gained the trust and friendship of the local tribes people of this area and how he became relatively immersed in their culture on frequent occasions, enabling him to report with reasonable accuracy about the early times and lives of these people he came to know so well.

This fascinating book was kindly lent to me in December providing excellent information on the plants that were relied on as sources of food. Chapter 11 details the Bunya Pine - or as it was originally known to indigenous people Bon-yi (pronounced bon-ye)... describing the "bon-yi season" which was marked with a festival every 3rd year when the harvest of Bon-yi seeds would be most significant. This link here allows you to download or read this book "Tom Petrie's reminiscences of Early Queensland" by Constance Campbell Petrie.
This past weekend I reread the 2 chapters relevant my topic and made notes, quick drawings and then cross-referenced the species mentioned in the equally wonderful book  "Fruits of the Australian Tropical Rainforest" by Wendy Cooper and William T Cooper.

Pages above and below: from work in journals on the weekend - quick drawings in ink and water colour.

A brilliant resource with excellent illustrations and data on species. I was able to search through this in order to find species that are prevalent in this region. In the coming months I will be taking time to meet with staff who can provide a beneficial introduction to this realm. The Seed Lab is another port of call - Jason Halford supplying critical information to aid understanding on what is truly indigenous to this area. I was very keen, when perusing this book below, to come across species that I would have grown up seeing when living on the Clarence River in Northern NSW. As a child picking up seed pods and observing nature in a country region brings connections between land and nature closer to one's everyday experience. This brings that clearly back to mind and is no doubt a prompt for this interest all these years later!


Maggie Neale said...

Enjoy seeing your sketchbook drawings and your studio with shelves from your other blog. I like the visit with your generous energy and productive activity. Also nice to visit summer!

Sophie Munns said...

Thank you Maggie!
We have been labouring under humidity and you under Ice, snow and such ...summer looks wonderful when one is freezing and cant get out to the garden!
Thanks for kind words,

Anonymous said...

Hi Sophie,
I have just skimmed the Homage to Seed blog and feel like I have taken a turn around a garden, which is my perpetual longing. Love your drawings and the red palm seed photos. So much green in nature that red is precious. I look forward to seeing more...Una

Sophie Munns said...

Great to have you visit the Seed blog Una.
True about the colour of nature...except for perhaps when you were living in Central AustraliaI Certainly around here and with reasonable rain its green everywhere!
Thanks for warm comments,

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