Chapter 11 - Firstness, Foundness and Rebirth

A few months after my Norway trip I was running a poetry workshop in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. It was a grade 3 class in a rather multi-cultural school. I had this strange little conversation with one chatty boy:

"Where you from?" he asked.

"From the hills." I say.

He looked confused.

Clarifying, I say, "I live up in The Dandenongs."

"No," he says "where you originally from?"

"Oh, well, originally from Tassie, but I lived in Sydney for a while."

"No." he says more insistently, "like, I'm from Egypt,"
and pointing to a friend, "he's from Ethiopia. Where you from?"

"Aaah" I say dumbly... "I'm just Aussie."

"What?" he says, and gives me a strange look.

"I suppose" I go on, "most of my ancestry goes back to England and places in Europe."

"Oh, that's weird." he says.

And it is weird.

Here I am, feeling so Australian,…

Chapter 10 - Homecoming

I love, as a writer, that it was because of a work of literature, that the dark face of Truganini – heavy with history – came to be painted on a grey wall in Norway, staring down its many whitenesses – some beautiful; some less so.

That it was a thoughtful American scholar, Jared Diamond, and his book Guns, Germs and Steel that inspired a young woman from the Basque county, living in Bergen, to recreate in paint and ink the image of the most famous Tasmanian aboriginal; to continue the story; to renew the story; to affirm this story as a global one.

I love, as a designer and dabbler in drawing, that the image of Truganini carries through history (and history books) in ways that words never could. And there is something beautiful about the cyclic nature of words and images: the way pictures can inspire such prose and poetry; which inspire new images; which inspire new words; and on and on, in the perpetual motion of inspiration.

As an amateur photographer trained in the 1990s in the wa…

Chapter 9 – Finally, an email and answers!

Hey Cam,

I have been contacted by Walter Wehus with an incredible story. My name is Ariadne, I live in Bergen and I painted Truganini at the arquitecture school, I think you were trying to find me, is it true? It is just amazing... I have no words!

I just heard your one poem podcast (I also made my own research about you, pretty easy!) and got gladly surprised with the last one’s theme.

     ... Today, I'm doing a poem called
     You Bring The Story; I Bring The Coffee ...

     when someone says
     "No words can describe ..."
     they might be surprised
     how much CAN be
     called upon
     and thrown into relief
     with words

I had started writing the story to you with “I have no words...” so you see the irony crossing the world.

     when someone says
     "It's a long story ..."
     It's probably not that long.
     It's quite likely
     they've just never had the chance
     to fully tell it out
     spell it ou…

Chapter 8 - Getting closer! So close!

Leads – part 2.

At the party, over chocolate cheesecake, Michael says:

Sure, send me what you've got and I'll pass it onto my contacts – and we'll see what happens!

Over the next week I pull all my photos and research together and write a brief account of the story so far. Then I send it all to friendly, helpful Michael.

Friendly, helpful Michael gets back to me quickly.

Friendly, helpful Michael has done a Google image search and has found the Truganini mural on a Bergen street art website that I didn't find in my searches. Damn, what else have I missed?

And he found that gallery – USF – that runs the AiR program, and he's so friendly and helpful, he's already emailed them, and they've already got back to him, specifically suggesting the website Mot Veggen as the best lead to follow.

Yeah, I think, well I didn't actually contact whoever runs that site – I'd better do that!

So, back to Mot Veggen, and I'm feeling optimistic! More optimistic than I…

Chapter 7 - That Famous Photograph

Silver albumen print, 1866
egg white

all these whites
in just the right balance, state and order
brought forth
the image
of Truganini

– a truly black and white affair –

the photo had been taken
seated, stern, staring

her face Anglo-fied on a glass negative

the iridescent glow of her shell necklace
reduced to strings of black bullets

all her subtle hues
lost to the crudeness
of her time
in technology and sociology

a chicken egg – cracked open

albumen mixed with sodium chloride

cotton paper coated

left to dry


dipped in silver nitrate

pressed against negative

laid in the sun

once her dark face emerged into white history
a bath of sodium thiosulfate
to fix the image

but there's so much to fix

and so much still
yet to be broken

Chapter 6 - Hope

Leads – part 1.

The ABC interview was a bit disappointing.

It turned out my story was just the frame for a call-in chat-back about what local thing you've stumbled upon in some surprising place on the other side of the globe. I had a few minutes to tell the story; then they just went to callers. The producer said they would try and find out more about it. But one week later – nothing – and I realise I was just a blip in arvo radio chat-back.

So, here I am listing my leads.

Lead 1.
The mural is signed 'AiR'. A simple Google search doesn't turn up much, except there's a gallery in Bergen – USF – that runs an Artist in Residence program they call, for short, AiR. I don't think an artist would sign under a program name, but maybe it's worth an email.

Lead 2:
The Bergen School of Architecture – it's on their wall; maybe they're in on it? I need to send them an email.

Lead 3:
From a guy I don't know on Facebook who says:

"I know a connection …

Chapter 5 - Dreaming

and I keep
having dreams...

the face of Truganini
hangs over the silvery ocean of my thoughts
like a dark moon

the path to her –
nothing but blackness
every bit of light
I try to shine on this