STORY OF THE RAVEN
REBECCA WESTLUND AND TAMMY CHATFIELD
8 to 30 June 2018
My identity is not limited to but is inclusive of being a Kamilaroi woman, daughter, aunt, health practitioner, Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, artist and teacher. I am conscious of the fact that I was born on Boon Wurrung land and now live on Wurundjeri land. I am required to have a certain level of community and cultural responsibility to be respectful of place.
My work in this exhibition tells various stories of the Raven/Crow whose name is Waa. Some of these stories tell that the black colour is a consequence of getting too close to the fire.
Others explain the spiritual responsibility of Waa to look after the waterways and in turn the waterways will look after you. This water can present itself several ways. It can be fog, salt or fresh and birth water.
The land teaches and holds a knowledge that creates a connection between self, animals, plants and minerals we cohabitate with. I am drawn to the colours, shapes and textures that exist within nature and how each of these elements are impacted on by the environment in which they thrive but can also struggle to survive.
As a 6th generation Australian settler with ancestors from Norse, Celtic and Christian backgrounds my connection to the flora, fauna and landscape of both Australia and the world was not shared or taught to me but rather self-learnt through experience, research and intuition. I express this connection through both art in the public space and in fine art practice.
My current candidacy for Master of Arts at RMIT University investigates the relationship between human and bird, leading me to create work for this exhibition that focuses on an abundant city bird- the raven. Melbourne and its inhabitants have a symbiotic relationship with the raven, a bird that is present in many of my ancestor’s spiritual stories (as either raven or crow).
The pieces in the exhibition combine Melbourne city with various stories from my ancestor’s beliefs: Odin and his two ravens Hugin and Munin, the Celtic triple goddess Morrigan and crow-god Bran the Blessed, and the Christian bible story of Elijah.
Rebecca will donate 10% of all profits from my art to Birdlife Australia for conservation and research.