Shark Engraving, Bondi Golf Course (Aboriginal Engraving Series IV), 2007
Limited edition archival print on Hahnemuhle cotton rag museum-grade art paper, edition 1/15, 60cm x 90cm
Despite the past 230 years of European occupation, Aboriginal rock engravings exist in Sydney. Sydney’s soft sandstone platforms allowed for unusually large depictions of marine life, animals and other dreamtime figures. When the British arrived in 1788, they sailed into an art gallery of over 10,000 Aboriginal rock engravings. Estimates are that about 2,000 sites remain today. According to Dr Peter Stanbury and John Clegg, who wrote the definitive field guide to Sydney’s Aboriginal rock engravings, many of these intriguing art sites remain easily accessible, but are seldom visited or understood. “No other city in the world has in its environs such a rich prehistoric heritage. So many records made before the written word. The engravings speak of a culture of whose richness we catch only a fleeting impression as we sit in stillness observing this art.” In 2007 I developed a photographic technique of bringing these important cultural sites, which are fading quickly over time, back to life. By using long camera exposures of 3 minutes or more, I follow the outlines of engravings with a small torch at night. The result resembled a ‘halo of light’ floating above the rock surface. It felt like the sites were coming magically back to life.