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Firestick and Furnace: Fire for Regeneration and Revenge in Indigenous Art

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Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Dunn Place

Hobart, TAS 7000

Australia

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We now understand that Aboriginal people managed land across the continent in a process often referred to as ‘firestick farming’. Fire was also used as a weapon for war. There are many accounts of fire being used to repel intruders on the colonial frontier. John Kean will examine these two contrasting aspects of the use of fire via a multidisciplinary analysis of paintings by Johnny Warangula Tjupurrula and Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri. Johnny Warangula’s paintings show how the artist’s ancestors ‘patch-burning’ spinifex country to hunt Mala (Rufus Hare Wallaby). It will be demonstrated that these paintings vividly illustrate the regenerative effects of ‘fire-stick farming.' In contrast, Clifford Possum, who grew up in fire-sensitive mulga country adjacent to the MacDonnell Ranges, tells a story of the malevolent use of fire. Possum’s celebrated depictions of Warlugulong (belonging to fire) narrate the epic account of Lungkata (Blue-tongue Lizard) and his ‘retribution by fire’. The destructive effect of Lungkata’s fire of revenge will be discussed to reveal the application of differing fire regimes according to land type.

About the Speaker:
John Kean was Art Advisor at Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd (1977-9), inaugural Exhibition Coordinator at Tandanya: the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute (1989-92), Exhibition Coordinator at Fremantle Arts Centre (1993-6), Producer with Museum Victoria (1996-2010). He is currently undertaking a PhD in Art History at the University of Melbourne. John has published extensively on Indigenous art and the representation of nature in Australian museums.

About BeakerStreet@TMAG:
BeakerStreet@TMAG is a pop-up science bar at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 18-20 August - admission is free. Join us during the second weekend of National Science Week for three packed nights of intriguing short talks and hands-on workshops, live music, beer brewing Q&A, the 360 Cinema Dome, SCINEMA short films, a photography exhibition, storytelling, have a beer with a scientist, delicious local food and Tassie tipples, heaters and hot drinks in the courtyard, and more! This presentation will be held in the Centre for Learning and Discovery. Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the start of this presentation to check in, get a drink and find a seat - talks and workshops will start promptly at the advertised start time.

BeakerStreet@TMAG is free and open to the public but designed for an adult audience. Under-18s must be accompanied by an adult. For program details and more information, visit www.beakerstreet.com.au or get updates by clicking "Going" or "Interested" on our facebook event.

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Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Dunn Place

Hobart, TAS 7000

Australia

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