Picturesque shots from Down Under

Kathmandu: The countries Down Under, especially the picturesque country of kangaroos and the kookaburra, has a fabulous anthropological history — especially that of the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. The cultural diversity they have and the vivid festivals of these people were celebrated across Australia between August 2002 and February 2003. And the photographs of four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural festivals were on display at Siddhartha Art Gallery, Baber Mahal Revisited on January 21. The exhibition was organised by Australian Embassy in association with the gallery. Australian ambassador to Nepal Keith Gardner inaugurated the exhibition. Gardner shared that it was an honour and pride to present the exhibition, which depicted 40 striking, photographs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural festivals

Images of Garma Festival, Torres Strait Cultural Festival, Stompem Ground Festival, Iarapuna Festival were put for the exhibition at the gallery. Garma is mostly an indigenous event and is a celebration of that heritage underpinned by a philosophy of sharing knowledge and culture, embracing the message of the land. The Bunggul dance is the highlight of this festival, which allows guests to witness the expressions of a complex wo-rld, view of a culture that is tied to the land. The dance is a celebration combined with gratitude and reverence.

Photographed by Peter Eve, the images of Garma festival comprises ‘Waiting in the wing’, ‘Bilma’, ‘Paintin’ Up’, ‘Taking the proper steps’, ‘Strength of the land’, ‘Yolngu Boys’, ‘Many generations’ and ‘Crying for the country’.

‘Many generations’ showcases three Yolngu women — a grandmother, mother and daughter watching Bunggul dance and shows the strength of their community. Another picture that captures the mind of many is ‘Strength of the land’. Three pairs of legs performing dance voice that the dancers of Bunggul draw their strength from land, from the country. The photographer has utilised great sensitivity and imagination on the pictures of Garma show and presented with great effect. In another picture — ‘Yolngu boys’ — two boys’ broad grins and easy camaraderie show their affinity not only with each other but also with their surroundings as they wait their turn to show their performance, which the photographer has captured impeccably.

Eight photographs of Torres Strait Cultural Festival are yet striking and mesmerising and are photographed by Liberty Seekee. The people of Torres Strait Islander celebrate their unique cultural heritage with a festival that showcases their affinity with the sea. The ‘Island magic’ and ‘Hula dance’ — dances from Pacific Islands and Cook Islands are ever-finely imprisoned that one ponders for a minute or two to visualise the actual danceform.

One of the photographs from Stompem Ground festival is of ‘Kudall Dancer’. The principal dancer of the Kudall group wears the traditional headdress as a mark of his status not only in the performance but also within his clan group. This illustrates the cultural vividness of this particular group.

The photographs of Iarapuna festival comprises ‘Preparing the kelp’, ‘Minding the catch,’ ‘Iarapuna’ to name a few. ‘Minding the catch’ features the immaculate coastline of Iarapuna (north east Tasmania) in which a very young child looks on while his father is fishing for more.

The opening ceremony of the exhibition also included an exclusive performance by the band Cadenza featuring Salil Subedi playing Didgeridoo — a unique aborigine instrument. The opening ceremony was very vibrant and lively as many of the who’s who from diplomatic circle to art and culture were present at the function.

The exhibition continues till January 31.