Emeriti Faculty

The Land and the Dreaming: Aboriginal Art and Life of Australia

DSPT Event - The Land and the Dreaming - Aboriginal Painted Cloth

DSPT and CARE present a two-part series by Fr. John Hilary Martin, OP

Presentation one, April 7, 2010:

The Land, Aboriginal Art and The Dreaming

Aboriginal Art has always attracted a great deal of attention and drawn people into the Outback of Australia. It is the art of the oldest continuous culture on the planet. Aboriginal art is expressed through paintings on rock, bark, and the human body, and through ritual music. This art is both secular and religious, but all of it stems from attachment to the Land and the Dreaming--which both made and gave the Land to the Aboriginal people--time out of mind.

DSPT Professor Fr. Hilary Martin, OP in Australia

Fr.Hilary Martin, OP spent twenty years with an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory of Australia and has studied that art which, like the Dreaming, is timeless and unchanging, but grows and develops, too.

Fr. Hilary will give a short lecture on the meaning of the Dreaming, and invite discussion of two works of contemporary Aboriginal art in his possession. But no presentation is complete without a film and so Fr. Hilary will also show the film, Singing the Milky Way.

Presentation two, April 21, 2010:

Aboriginal Life: Then and Now

Aboriginal peoples of Australia follow up their ancient dreaming and have maintained a deep love of the land and its art. That way of life faces particular difficulties in surviving in the Australia of today. Fr. Hilary Martin, OP, will give a brief overview of some of these problems by way of introduction to an important Australian film, Samson and Delilah.

DSPT Event - The Land and the Dreaming - Samson and Delilah Movie PosterSamson & Delilah (2009)

Directed and Written by Warwick Thornton, Produced by Kath Shelper, Distributed by Madman Entertainment, Starring Rowan McNamara and Marissa Gibson

Review by Fr. John Hilary Martin, OP

This is a brilliant Australian movie; it is complex and can be taken in a number of ways. It is an inside look at the lower range of Aboriginal life in Australia. This film can be seen as the triumph of a woman's spirit over extreme mental and physical adversity and this is probably the most positive way of viewing this movie. It can be seen as a record of the collapse of an indigenous culture which is now lost beyond repair-as the result of drugs, poverty and lack of education. It can also be seen as a sharp indictment of the failure of the Australian government-over several generations- to do anything about the aboriginal problem in the country. It can be seen, more cynically, as an over-the-top account of the dissolution of Aboriginal culture with the end in view of discrediting Aboriginal peoples generally. In this case, it can be seen as part of a campaign to facilitate the takeover of the land which viable Aboriginal communities will have to leave behind. Perhaps there is something of all these things in this movie. In any event, it is instructive and any Australian would do well to sit through it, and non-Australians too, as a cautionary tale of what will happen if they practice continuing neglect in their own country. Finally, those who think this film is an academic think-piece, and exercise in nihilism or about the failure of the human condition are adding something that isn't there. This film has nothing to do with philosophy, it is about reality.