A brush pushes dots against an all black canvas. Trevor Nickolls tells us about the influences that shape his work. Nickolls refers to the Western machinery and Indigenous cosmology known as the Dreaming. Summary by Romaine Moreton.
Nickolls’ artwork speaks predominantly about the juxtaposition of Indigenous cosmology (Dreaming) and Western machinery and technology, and the coexistence of both in the land now known as Australia.
An episodic documentary featuring distinguished Indigenous artists specialising in literary and visual art forms.
Dreamtime, Machinetime is a title borrowed from Trevor Nickolls’ artwork of the same name, and visits locations such as Yirrikala, Warndoolier (Perth), Minjerriba (Stradbroke Island), Narr’n (Melbourne), Balingup and Warrane (Sydney). A nicely paced documentary that showcases the work of writers Archie Welter and Oodgeroo Noonuccal and artists Banduk Marika and Trevor Nickolls. The documentary highlights the artists’ social conscience that gives substance and form to their work. The rhythm of this documentary allows the audience to participate in the work presented; entering the poetry of Kath Walker, or the prose of Archie Weller, their literature is given a visual component by the filmmakers.
In the culture of Banduk Marika, stories are inherited generation through generation, and are restricted. The word restricted means that each person can only re-tell a story that they have permission to. This inherited right to stories exists in all Indigenous cultures in Australia, and Banduk Marika tells us that she as an individual can only tell certain stories and paint certain symbols, like the barramundi for example. What this means is that not every artist is permitted to use the barramundi to tell their stories.
Nickolls’ visual art speaks about the marriage between Western culture and Indigenous culture, and how they represent two different ways of seeing the world. All of the artists in Dreamtime, Machinetime comment on the changes that are occurring for Indigenous peoples and Indigenous culture as a result of coming into contact with Western society, and it is this commentary that informs their artwork.
Notes by Romaine Moreton
This clip shows Aboriginal artist Trevor Nickolls at work painting a canvas and talking about his art practice and philosophy. The clip opens with Nickolls applying dots to a canvas while describing the meaning of the dots in his work. ‘Self portrait’ (1973) is shown as Nickolls explains its significance. Nickolls speaks directly to camera about the inspiration for ‘Melbourne Dreaming’ (1981) followed by a long shot as the camera pans down the painting and the traffic noise on the soundtrack becomes increasingly louder.
Education notes provided by The Learning Federation and Education Services Australia