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Lives of the Artist: Patrick Tjungurrayi by John Carty

This book review is a guest post by Will Owen, who publishes the very good Aboriginal Art & Culture: an American eye. It was originally posted there in late April this year.

Readers who followed this blog for a long time know already of my admiration for John Carty’s work. John is an anthropologist trained at the Australian National University under Howard Morphy. He has long had an interest in art history, and has practiced both discipline throughout Western Australia for well over a decade now*.

Art and anthropology have rarely met so fortuitously and happily as when John went out to Balgo in 2002 to begin to learn about the art of the Western Desert. As he explained recently in a wonderful radio interview, he arrived in Balgo speaking not a word of the languages in use there and immediately fell to feeling quite lost.

As fate would have it, heavy rains farther south in Western Australia had flooded out the community of Kiwirrkura in 2001 and many of those residing there had relocated with relatives in Balgo. Among these was a man who had spent a good deal of his adult life in both communities.


Roadside memorials of southern California II: the deadly curves of Route 33

You can drive California State Route 33 from north of Los Angeles to somewhere just south of San Francisco and it runs like a shadow of the much larger and direct Interstate 5.

I try to avoid Interstates where I can and stumbled across SR 33 a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for a route from Tehachapi in Kern County down to the coast at Santa Barbara where I would attend the 38th annual Society of Ethnobiology meeting.

The options presented by Google Maps took me on a couple of variations of a direct route through Bakersfield and down through the outlying suburbs of Los Angeles and along the coast road. I was in no great hurry and my California roadmap showed a much less direct but far more interesting-looking zig-zag route through Kern and Ventura counties that kept me off the orange coloured threads of the Interstates and onto the yellow and white State and County roads. And a large part of that run would take me through the Los Padres National Forest and across the San Rafael mountain range that hugs the coast north of Los Angeles.

Bingo. That’ll do me.


BOB GOSFORD | May 23, 2015 | PHOTOGRAPHY | |

Roadside memorials of southern California: Father J. J. Crowley, the ‘desert padre’

As I’ve noted in previous posts, I’ve spent the past few weeks in southern California, taking a break from work and attending the 38th Society of Ethnobiology meeting at the University of California campus at Santa Barbara on the coast north of Los Angeles. I like the south-west of the US and had no problem with the prospect of spending a few weeks driving around the backroads and thought that this years I’d explore the eastern Sierra Nevada country around the Owens Valley north-east of Los Angeles prior to meeting.

I’ve always had a keen eye for a good roadside memorial so when my way back from Bishop in the north of the valley I came across this tribute to Father J. J. Crowley along Route 14 near to Red Rock Canyon I pulled in to take a few shots.


BOB GOSFORD | May 23, 2015 | PHOTOGRAPHY | |

Motel. El Centro, Imperial Valley, California

I spent three nights in the Rodeway Inn & Suites in El Centro in the southern Imperial Valley last week.

This sign was the best thing I saw there …

BOB GOSFORD | May 23, 2015 | ANIMALS | |

Snake of the Week: Great Basin Gopher Snake

I came across this Great Basin Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer deserticola) on a stretch of old Highway 395 just south of Big Pine a few weeks ago while I was spending some time motoring around the eastern Sierra Nevada in inland California before travelling down to Santa Barbara for the 38th Society of Ethnobiology meeting (see my report here).



The Rembarrnga law for birds – “all the birds are your relations”

There is a quote from the late renowned Arnhemland artist Paddy Wainburranga that I’ve been trying to find again for years without success until earlier today, when I found it in Deborah Bird-Rose’s 1996 book Nourishing Terrains*.

My search was prompted by the following paragraph, which for mine captures in a few brief words the depth and nature of the intense and undeniable relationships between Aboriginal Australians and the birds that form such an important part of their secular and religious life.

There are different kinds of birds here. They can’t talk to you straight-up. You’ve got to sing out to them so they can know you. …

BOB GOSFORD | May 18, 2015 | UNCATEGORIZED | 2 |

Set the budgies free! Indian Courts find for the birds

Further to a landmark decision of the Indian Supreme Court in May 2014, the High Court in Delhi has found that birds have the fundamental right to “live with dignity” and fly in the sky without being kept in cages or subjected to cruelty, Delhi High Court has said while holding that running their trade was a “violation of their rights”. As reported in The Indian Express, birds have:


The Many Faces of Ethnoornithology at the 38th Society of Ethnobiology meeting

Last week I spent a few days at the University of California Santa Barbara campus for the 38th annual Society of Ethnobiology meeting.

I and a bunch of other presented during a session at the meeting dedicated to the ethnobiological sub-discipline of ethnoorithology, which is concerned with the study of the multi-faceted relationships between humans and birds. The session was co-ordinated by Nicole Sault.

It was a great session that hopefully will lead to the publication of a collected set of papers developed from the presentations. In the meantime, below I present the abstracts from the ethnoornithology session, titled “What Do Birds Tell Us? How Ethno-ornithology Opens Doors to Understanding Relationships with Others.


BOB GOSFORD | May 03, 2015 | MISSISSIPPI | |

Billboards, Baptists and the “Trail of Blood”

I’ve long been fascinated by the many and various religious factions and fault-lines in American religiosity, not from an intellectual or theological point of view but mainly because of the sheer diversity–and occasional bat-shit craziness–therein. One of my favourite writers, introduced to me by Nick Cave in the early 1980s, is Flannery O’Connor, who, as a Catholic, wrote from an intrigued outsider’s perspective on the darker threads of religiosity in the deep south of the USA. A good start is her novel (though she was a great short story writer), Wise Blood, which in 1979 was made into one of the great films of John Huston’s long and varied career.

On previous trips through the south, particularly in and around the Mississippi Delta country, I’ve concentrated on the many and various permutations of the fundamentalist Baptist churches and their kin–see some links below.



The Minister, a shady Japanese bar and the $5200 4am hospitality tab

This is the text of Deputy Speaker Matt Conlan’s Adjournment Speech to the NT Legislative Assembly on 30 April 2015 as reported in the Daily Hansard.

Mr CONLAN (Greatorex): Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, I rise to clear up a bit of scuttlebutt and rumour, or put to bed a couple of rumours. I have caught the attention of the member for Barkly who was just packing up his stuff but he wants to stay and hear this and I am happy for him to do so.

The scuttlebutt and the rumour of course surrounds myself and the issue relates to a personal expense incurred by myself that, due to particular circumstances, was settled by the CEO of Tourism NT. The amount in question is some $5119.54. That amount has since been repaid by myself from my own personal salary. The scuttlebutt surrounding it relates to some rumour and innuendo that I was, believe it or not, arrested while on an overseas trip and released on bail. The suggestion being that I was bailed out on taxpayers’ expense.


Womens Agenda


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