From Little Things (Big Things Grow) by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody

From Little Things (Big Things Grow) by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
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Kevin Carmody and Paul Kelly discuss the song 'From Little Things Big Things Grow’. They also discuss the Wave Hill walkout, when the Gurindji people – led by Vincent Lingiari – went on strike to get their land back from British Lord Vestey. Black-and-white footage of the actual strike is juxtaposed with the interview with Carmody and Kelly.

Summary by Romaine Moreton

The value of 'From Little Things Big Things Grow’ as a song is fully realised as a historical repository. The song recites the events of Wave Hill and the successful strike of the Gurindji people, and the clip shows the iconic image of Gough Whitlam pouring the soil of the land through Vincent Lingiari’s hand. The photo, taken by Aboriginal photographer Mervin Bishop, is recognisable to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike.


 'From Little Things (Big Things Grow)' by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody synopsis

A musical documentary that comments on the work of Kev Carmody, Indigenous songwriter and historian. An exploration into the life of Carmody, using music clips especially made for the documentary, and historical footage to portray the years he spent in an orphanage when forcibly removed from his family by Queensland authorities at ten years old.


Curator’s notes

Kev Carmody grew up on a cattle station near Goranba, in the Darling Downs area of south-eastern Queensland. This documentary offers musical clips of some of Carmody’s better known works that have now become classics in Aboriginal music, featuring some well-known Indigenous artists in musical support. The importance of Carmody’s role as an historian who continues the oral storytelling Indigenous cultural tradition is evident in many of the musical pieces offered here – in particular the song from which the title of the film is derived, 'From Little Things Big Things Grow’, written and performed with Paul Kelly and the Indigenous group Tiddas in back-up. Carmody and Paul Kelly discuss the Wavehill walkout, the theme of the song. An important moment in Aboriginal history, the iconic image of Gough Whitlam pouring dirt through Vincent Lingiari’s hand is captured in the work of Mervyn Bishop, the first Aboriginal photographer to work for the Sydney Morning Herald. Carmody’s music is more than song, it is history.

From Little Things Big Things Grow is directed by Trevor Graham. Graham’s other directing credits include Sugar Slaves (1995), Mabo: Life of an Island Man (1997), Tosca: A Tale of Love and Torture (2000), Aeroplane Dance (1994), Lonely Boy Richard (2003), and Land Bilong Islanders (1990).

Notes by Romaine Moreton