In only a few minutes this video conveys to us in powerful images and simple language how the Aboriginal people and their 'country', their art and their stories, and their songs and ceremonies are part of one another and, in fact, inseparable. Watching this film I am reminded of Gregory Bateson's comment that the aesthetic, the whole and the sacred evoke each other.
Having just returned from the Central Desert the second time and participating in Women's Business at some very special sacred sites, I have begun to grasp in a new way what the notion of homeland or 'country' may mean to the Aboriginal people and how healing the land is healing ourselves.
Enjoy this glimpse into a completely different kind of human relationship to the natural environment, visible or not.
The story behind the video
In the vast Western Desert of Australia, Bill Whiskey is a healer. A Ngangkari. Powerful and hugely respected. Bill Whiskey is almost 90 and was well into his teenage years when he first met a white fella.
He was born the traditional way, in a shallow hole scooped out of the red dirt in the centre of Australia. Today, Bill Whiskey is one of Australia's most successful artists. His paintings hang in museums and galleries across the world. Amazingly, he has only been painting for two years.
When Bill Whiskey's canvas is chosen to hang in Australia's most prestigious Aboriginal art exhibition, his closest friends promise to take him to see it. But Bill Whiskey has never left his country. Hes never seen a city. Never seen the ocean. Bill Whiskey has never seen his paintings on a gallery wall. This documentary film is Bill Whiskeys journey to all those places. Being out of his country Bill Whiskey is overwhelmed, fearful and homesick. He wants to go home to his birthplace where the dots of his paintings come alive. A place he has only ever been back to once in his life. There, That Old Man takes us into his dreaming, into his painting, into a world tens of thousands of years old. A place of mystery and legend where no white fella has been before. Until now.