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I naively hoped this project would tell a rich and generous story, of deep time, of ancient culture, of continuing care of country, of the terrible consequences of colonisation, and of the continuity and generosity of both culture and of the biotic and human communities that surround these extraordinary beings. I have been hurt and disappointed by both the process and outcomes of the project, and I know that many other people have similarly been hurt and disappointed.
Discussions around representing Bunya in the new gallery of the Museum began with George Main and Jilda Andrews from the NMA myself and my then partner in 2017, and by early 2018 Bianca Beetson, Leah Barclay and myself were invited by the NMA to work on a “collaboration that delivers a large, artful installation capturing the form, aesthetic, spirit and meanings of the tree…”
In 2019 I met with members of New York based Local Projects who were engaged by the museum to design the new galleries, and began discussions with the museum about the possibility of casting bunya trees. Late 2019 I was approached by the Katalyst Group to construct trees for the new gallery. With the wisdom of hindsight, I very foolishly signed a contract that was very inadequate for the scale, complexity, and longevity of the project, and was shocked by the lack of artistic autonomy and respect for skills and experience and absence of cultural sensitivity that was inherent in the process that followed. There was a very very lengthy and painful process of design, debate, redesign, engineering and documentation to finally reach sign-off on construction drawings in February 2021. This process involved negotiating with members of the NMA team, Local Projects, Katalyst Group and Built (construction group). Throughout this process I felt that I (and Leah and Bianca) were treated as a general fabricator, rather than as artist and designer, and I felt we struggled to include and maintain any cultural content in the work. A direct arts contract with the NMA would have been much more appropriate..... Continues in comments on @rossannels page #lomandraplacestudios ...