Dylan Sarra’s rubbings of the Burnett River Petroglyphs respond to the Queensland government’s removal of culturally significant rock drawings in 1971.
Without consulting the traditional custodians, more than ninety-two large sandstones sitting in a surface area of 3.348 square kilometres were fractured and removed to make way for a dam wall.
This body of work explores how a creative arts practice can reconnect cultural iconography, which has become decontextualised through its removal.
Using the art of frottage (the technique or process of taking a rubbing from an uneven surface), muslin cloth was placed over the original artefacts and natural charcoal rubbed over the material to expose ancient carvings previously not visible to the eye.
For the first time, this work will incorporate animation to bring the carvings to life. This is done to represent First Nations stories as a continuum of a living and breathing culture.
This immersive installation will be located in the Queensland Museum Whale Mall.
Fluctuating conversations are ongoing regarding the fractured history and possible repatriation of the rocks. Regardless, the site remains a cultural place to the traditional owners as it sits within a line of a more significant journey trekking across country to the Bunya Mountains.
The importance of more research lies within a statement from the commissioned archeologist Kate A. Sutcliffe in which she states: “through the various failures and successes of the salvage process, no analysis of the artwork was undertaken.” This alludes to the fact that the petroglyphs were decontextualised once removed from the site because of failure to understand their placement within the surrounding landscape.
About the Creator
Dylan Sarra is a Gooreng Gooreng/Taribelang artist from the Central Queensland region who currently lives in Brisbane, Australia. With a main focus on exploring identity and place, Sarra uses a range of disciplines such as print, digital works and sculpture to gently persuade an audience into humanising the Indigenous experience.
He is involved in research and development of cultural knowledge and practice, that in turn can be shared with the wider community from where these stories take place. It is Dylan’s aim that all people can not only can be intrigued by indigenous culture, but they can also start to appreciate the role we all play in acknowledging First Nations people.
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