Tag Archive | Aboriginal Australia

Cameron Hayes exhibition opens in Melbourne today

Cameron Hayes’ extensive body of work created over the past 8 years – The Incomplete History of Milikapiti – will be on show at Dark Horse Experiment gallery in Melbourne from tonight until the 2nd September.

Come and visit the show. If you have any thoughts or questions, contact Cameron. He might even be in the gallery some days.

Have a read of this article about the body of work before you go. It’s pretty interesting. And, if you can’t get to Melbourne to see the show check out this blog and the Dark Horse Experiment website for the full catalogue.

Soft sculpture installation from The Incomplete History of Milikapiti. There are more weird, fun and wonderful sculptures in the show.

The Incomplete History of Milikapiti

When all the Whites came to Milikapiti, they gave all the Tiwis sugar, flour, beer and the dole. The Tiwi hunters – famed for their ferocity and courage – were no longer needed to hunt and kill food for the community. The Tiwi hunters had no purpose, so they lost their self-esteem and just sat around the club drinking beer.

Because the Tiwis ate only flour and sugar their teeth started to fall out. The government provided only one size of too big false teeth for everyone.

When the Whites gave all the Tiwis ladders, everyone could get their own mangoes, so the best tree climbers in the community lost their jobs and their importance, and drank beer. Because the Kookaburras got ladders, they no longer felt they needed to fly, so their wings shrank and they put on weight.

Which was fine until they met the King Brown snake, who remembered how things used to be and killed the kookaburras, whose now tiny wings could not fly their fat bodies away from King Brown’s bite.

King Brown’s poo covered the ground all over the Tiwi Islands and was a constant embarrassment to the people and the animals.

Is there anything more humiliating than seeing your father humiliated? When the government gave everyone the dole, the proud Tiwi warriors got the same amount of money as the obnoxious baseball-cap-backwards-wearing teenagers, who got the same amount as the old Tiwi women, who got the same amount as the guy who just sleeps in the broken-down old car all day.

When the Whites gave all the Tiwis glasses, the owls with the best eyesight felt valueless. They started stealing everybody’s glasses in the community, and sometimes this created domestic violence.

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Mathias Ulungura captures Hajime Toyashima – 19th February 1942

Mathias Ulungura captures Hajime Toyashima – 19th February 1942, 2006, oil on linen, 167.5 x 254 cm

“The first prisoner of war captured on Australian territory was Hajime Toyashima, who crash-landed on the Tiwi Islands on the way home from bombing Darwin. He staggered to the beach where he saw lots of Tiwi women out crabbing in low tide. Hajime grabbed one of the babies left on the dry sand as a hostage. The Tiwi women just thought he was offering to carry the baby, so they returned to the community with Hajime following behind them, yelling in Japanese with a gun to the baby’s head.

When Hajime started to hear the Tiwi men, he handed the baby back to the grateful Tiwi women and ran off. Eventually he was caught by Matthias Ulungara who, before delivering him to the Whites, toured him around all the communities.

Tiwis only get bits and pieces of White culture, phrases that fall from the sky, like the leader of the tough gang who irons his Celine Dion tour T-shirt, or when a friend visited me from Germany, an old Tiwi woman wished her good luck and, “Heil, Hitler”.”

The link below takes you to an article about this true story. The first prisoner of war in Australia during WWII was captured on Melville Island by Mathias Ulungura. Click here to read the article by Catherine Schwerin.

Downed Japanese fighter aircraft A6M2, number 5349, source: Australian War Memorial. This image is in the public domain