Oonyawa: From Museum Back to Country at the South Australian Museum
PR: "The Lead, South Australia," Samela Harris, 11 December 2014
"A series of fortunate coincidences have led to stories, voices and images from Far North Queensland being gathered together in a new exhibition by the South Australian Museum.
Archival cultural materials held by the South Australian Museum were conveyed to their Wik, Wik Waya and Kungu traditional owners from Aurukun on western Cape York in Queensland to jolt the memories of the old and create them freshly for the young.
A group of these far-flung elders, artists, community members and youth have now brought their new knowledge and new images back to Adelaide to create the exhibition - Oonyawa: From Museum Back to Country.
That a large strand of their history lies in Adelaide and not Brisbane is the first fortunate coincidence and is due largely to two extraordinary anthropologists and linguists. One is the late Ursula McConnel from Queensland, and the other is the remarkable Dr Peter Sutton, author and senior research fellow of the South Australian Museum and the University of Adelaide.
Ursula McConnel puts Daisy Bates in the shadows as an intrepid adventurer living and learning among the Aboriginal people. She walked vast distances through the 1930s, was an expert horsewoman, a linguist and photographer who recorded the people of the vastly isolated world she shared with them.
Although from Queensland, she had Adelaide links among academe and in particular her close friend the distinguished Dr Helen Mayo,. So she chose to bestow Adelaide with some of her photographs and collections of sacred Aboriginal artifacts."