Showing posts from July, 2018

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

Chapter 4 - Searching and Re-searching

This is the story of a black woman. And I am a white man. Yet I do feel like a custodian of this story, even though I feel so damn inadequate. So I've been reading what I can, and listening to podcasts. Sadly, it seems, there's little more than trinkets of info on Truganini's life. But these simple facts do suggest something of her experiences. Like this, on wikipedia – in 1829, by the age of 17:

"...her mother had been killed by sailors, her uncle shot by a soldier, her sister abducted by sealers, and her fiancé brutally murdered by timber-cutters, who then repeatedly sexually abused her."

And this, in The Vintage News:

"Prior to her death, Truganini had pleaded to colonial authorities for a respectful burial and requested that her ashes be scattered in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel. She feared that her body would be dissected and analysed for scientific purposes. Despite her wishes, within two years, her skeleton was exhumed by the Royal Society of Tasmani…

Chapter 3 - Not Forgotten

Jack Charles, the famous aboriginal actor and ex-cat burglar – I'm a fan! Not of his cat burgling! Of his acting and his commitment to mentoring within this community – anyway, he just commented on my Facebook post with two simple, grand words: 'Global songlines'.  

I am stopped in grinning wonder; while the comments just keep on streaming:

JH – Too many people have forgotten that Songlines exist and that we all    
    share the same planet for life.

EC – Truganini in Norway. Wow!

KLH – Deadly


MG – Wow, how amazing! As she was. :)

CJ – Would love to know the full story of how she came to be painted all that way away

NM – thats my nan

BG – Nordic aunty Trugganinni ...... :)

NHM – well you have taught me something. I only new 'Trugunnini' as a township over Werribbee way, thanks for putting a face to the name :)

RW – In Burketown, on the Gulf of Carpentaria, the town wharf at the turn of the 20th c…

Chapter 2 - Facebook and Google Maps

Is this what fame feels like? Online Facebook fame? Micro-fame? Is there such a thing as micro-fame? Or is that an oxymoron? Am I the moron for feeling it as fame at all? This mural has caught people's attention not because of me, but because of its mystery; its out-of-place-ness; its other(-side-of-the-)worldliness.

And ABC radio want to interview me! Is this what viral means? Is this what news is? Me posting a few photos of street art I stumbled upon in Norway 2 months ago when I'm back home trying to sketch out a new life for myself and the kids?

Why-why-why? All these whys don't make me wise. All I know is that I hold this story, and it feels like a gift. And I feel a responsibility to find the next chapter; to write it down; to share it. And it feels good to have a project; something to drive me on, it gives me a momentum to carry me through my grief.

So here I am...

Desperately trying to remember that ride I took – zooming here, there and everywhere usi…

Chapter 1 - History and mystery

I am blinking. Not really believing what I'm seeing.
I am standing on the footpath, straddling my bike.

Is that her? It must be her!

The evening is still and the air crisp on my skin.

I look around. No-one. A few cars passing by, but no-one walking, or anywhere.

I look back to the mural. Maybe it's not a mural. Maybe it's just really good street art. It's certainly not graffiti – too much artistry.

I lead my bike off the footpath, flip down the stand and walk over to stand face-to-face with this large purple-tinted portrait.

Is it really her?

I stand right in front of it. I trace a full circumference of the head with my outstretched arms.

Then I notice the necklace. I know about this necklace. I heard a radio doco a few months ago about how unique this style of necklace is; how ethnically distinct it is; and how this one lady is bringing back the craft of making them again.

It has to be her. But here? How? Why?

As an ex-Tasmanian trying to deal with what it means to b…