No longer a wandering spirit: part one

  • Date recorded: 1 Dec 2016

  • Duration: 42:30

'[This event] is not only a cultural response to the past, the waking up of an ancestor – it is about the reactivation of kinship, responsibility, the moral and cultural obligation to remember – and this requires the broader community to listen to alternate views of the past and to support the families who choose to action the misplaced histories of ancestors, such has been the case for Bessy Flowers.'

– Sharon Huebner

About this video

Join a journey of heartfelt connection as two families share their stories of discovery of their ancestor, Bessy Flowers, and why they needed to reclaim her history from the archive as an Indigenous story.

Bill Nicholson offers a Welcome to Country. Mandy Nicholson offers thanks and Djirri Djirri Dance Group – consisting of Mandy, her daughters Kaia and Dana, and her nephew Damian on yidiki – perform a series of songs and dances to offer welcome and to honour elements of Country.

Creative Fellow Sharon Huebner discusses her work with Koorie families in Victoria and Wirlomin Minang Noongar families from the Great Southern of Western Australia. She talks of broken families but also of resilience and survival and the continuing obligation to keep integral strong family ties.

She discusses the significance of an 1860s photograph of Bessy Flowers, found in the archives, around which an official colonial biography was constructed. This photo has been an entry point for Bessy's descendants to explore 'a new set of tracks', and prompted them to cross the country to meet for the first time.

A short excerpt is screened of Sharon's 20-minute multimedia project No longer a wandering spirit: imaginaries of Bessie Flowers.

This free event was held at State Library Victoria on 1 December 2016.

Image credit: composite of historic photo of Bessy Flowers with her Victorian Koorie descendants, Sharon Huebner, 2013

This is the first in a two-part video. Watch part two of 'No longer a wandering spirit'

Speakers

  • Bill Nicholson is a Wurundjeri Elder.
  • Mandy Nicholson is a member of Djirri Djirri Dance Group.
  • Sharon Huebner is a writer and photographer. In 2014 she was a Library Creative Fellow and in 2015 she was the Hugh Williamson Fellow at the University of Melbourne Archivers. In her research, Sharon explored the historical biography of Minang Noongar (Western Australia) woman, Bessy Flowers. This research drew on collaborations with Bessy’s Wirlomin Minang Noongar kin and her Koorie descendants developed as part of Sharon’s doctoral project at the Monash Indigenous Centre – a memory project which explored questions of identity through contemporary methods of inquiry that provided support to Noongar and Koorie practices of kinship.