these past few weeks have been filled with moments of connecting the dots, of remembering connections between how I experienced and viewed nature as a child and how I experience and see nature now. in an exhibition earlier this year, Kuña, I mentioned the concept of mother's eyes - that is the concept of ajé in the African Yoruba tradition and many others (see for example Teresa N Washington's "The Architects of Existence: Aje in Yoruba Cosmology, Ontology, and Orature" on this subject or follow the wonderful @ehimeora). In many African traditions birds are viewed as messengers and particularly connected to female ancestors and spirits. I used the term mother's eyes to describe my experience of observing and being observed by birds and for me in particular I connect with crows and magpies. just the other day I also realised it wasn't just birds that had been returning my curious gaze. all of nature was watching back. I have been visiting an ancestral tree relative, a solitary ombú, at least once a month now for well over a year and it seems wiriyagan (banksia) across the way have been watching me and thought it was time I came over and say hello. I often introduce myself to place (and have taught my son to do the same) by naming myself and those in my lineages, the lands we are from and often add a statement of gratitude for their protection and allowing us to pass through that place.
I remember undertaking a course with Negarra A Kudumu and I had been telling her about the strong feeling I had toward particular plants. Some plants had just kept popping up in conversation with other people or someone would have one in the background of a zoom call or I'd remember the plant being mentioned in a childhood memory or the plant would appear in a dream - so much so that after about 6-8 months of this I could no longer ignore it. It would then be after some research that I'd learn about an ancestral connection and the various uses and benefits of the plant. We talked a lot about herbalism and particular herbs and plants that are important for the African diaspora. At the end of one of our sessions Negarra said "don't be surprised if the plants of the land you are on want to work with you also".
This journal documents an ongoing personal journey of acknowledging, making space for and deepening into right relationship with the land I live on, the various communities I am part of and myself. I find everyday ceremony in daily practices including, but not limited to; weaving, sewing, parenting, writing, being outdoors, walking, divining with my ancestors and dreaming awake.
I am currently a PhD research candidate at Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney. The working title and topic of my research is "Reclaiming my indigenous roots on unceded land: transcribing and integrating counter archives". I consider myself an artist-researcher whereby my art practice is indivisible from my spiritual practice, my ancestral connections and my navigating this world as a woman of colour with African, Iberian and Indigenous South American heritage. As part of my PhD research, I am guided by three ancestral tree relatives: Ombú/Bella Sombra (Phytolocca dioica), Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) and Silk Floss/Kapok (Ceiba speciosa) who have varying histories, migratory paths and lengths of habitation in Australia far from their native South American origin.