Painting by Payi “Cables - Technology and Engineering”, April 2022.

Posted by : Cat Kutay Oct. 21, 2022

Contact : cat.kutay at Maps

The ‘Cables - technology and engineering’ depict the important lines that transfer the energy flows and colours indicate each line has its own source of power. The power accumulates to enable the creation of programs to inform people. The lines of multiple blues, greens, grey and white acrylic paints are the spiritual synergies of her thoughts and knowledge used to conceptualise an abstractness likened to the cables, technology, and engineering of modernity. The relationality of wuda ngirrwat is cognisant with the conceptual abstract links to the expansion of new and innovative knowledge in a contemporary setting to mediate how to draw from an ancient way of knowing, being and doing passed down through her Mak Mak Marranunggu and Marrithiyel generations about her wuda ngirrwats or water totems to even contemplate how this relates to technology and engineering today.

Payi visualised how both knowledge systems could be represented through her ‘cable’ painting. Payi’s selection of colours relate to her wuda ngirrwats and how living creatures and non-living entities recognise water in its multiple forms such as the wet season in Darwin in Northern Australia. Payi combined her kinship, relationships, memories, and connections through history, to her beloved flood plain country’s past, present and future sentinel beings and wuda ngirrwats. Payi’s depicted the moods of the flood plain as it manifests itself in the swell of change over time and the transformation over millennia and with every millisecond that passes.

Indigenous people's knowledge is taught to us, and we are informed about our being, knowing, and acting through our song lines that follow the current wuda ngirrwats sites that are in or near older riverbeds observed from google earth maps. They are embedded everywhere. They are the memories of the landscape connecting us to everything. Everyone has a wuda ngirrwat or water dreaming or water totem that connects us to country. The water flows do not belong to one person, they belong to multiple peoples. The cultural water flows links people who share their responsibility to conduct their cultural obligations through rituals, dance, songs, performance and who speak for the freshwater country, the saltwater country, springs, rivers, creeks, streams, billabongs, waterfalls, and so on.

On Kurrindju country the onset of the wet season brings a newness of creation as fresh growth energies, thus new life experiences and perspective are bought together through the flow of water from above to wash and to cleanse the country and its people. A new era and a new beginning, the water is everywhere on the flood plains and its reflection of the sun light shines and glistens against the ripples as the wind blows across the vast shallow expanse of water gently flowing towards the sea. The evaporation process starts the cycle again and thus it is importance to the ongoing nature to bring forth life.

The cables or lines painted in multiple colours represent the life cycle, of birth until death, decomposition that gives energy to bring forth new life. The water flow is the energy in the robust extraordinary developments that emerge as enriching events that are manifested in our lives embedded in our past, present, and future that is connecting us all. That is water.

The different textures of the regions reflect the texture of the water, reflecting the different depths, wind and the water’s swells, ebbs and flows. Every aspect of nature is entwined through the natural course of the water’s cultural flows. This is observed and felt through the historical boundaries and/or contemporary barriers to the water flow. Sometimes there are submerged and unseen objects and/or living objects lurking below the surface that causes changes to the water course flow. These can have significant outcomes for objects that are caught in the current of the water.

The actions of water on the surface are profound as it is observable in its many forms however it can be also found beneath the earth unobserved in layers below the ground in the aquifers, where the underwater holes and caves have been formed millions of years ago.

Nature’s engineers are sacred, and these are gifted to us, to care for and support.

Payi’s insights about her wuda ngirrwats, show its impacts on earth and all the natural elements, including the weather patterns, climate change, the sun, and the moon.

There is an abstract hint of spirituality entwined in the overall layered context of how we consider the ancient wisdom of the cultural water flows and climate change. The energy of the natural flow is eerily reminding us to look deeper at our practices as better managers to look after our planet earth and her gifts to us.