Knowing Place

Oriel Nwy Gas Gallery, Aberystwyth

June – 7 August 2015

Knowing Place explored the notion of the geographical environment that lives within a person.

There is a physical geographical environment in which we live and interact with on a daily basis and the geographical environment which lives within us, which informs our identity, informs what and who we say we are. The geographical environment is composed of an area of land with which we identify, a language, a culture, a subconscious stating of who and what we are, whether we have remained within the area we were born or whether we have moved to another area or another country. Within ourselves we know that place even when we don’t consciously state it.

We now live in a world in which we constantly move between places – most of us no longer living in the area in which we were born. But when we move elsewhere do we lose the connection with the place in which we came from? Do we identify as being part of the new place – its culture, language, and environment or is the area of our birth always within us? How is this expressed through the participating artists work?

This exhibition asked six artists from three countries to respond to the above questions.

Australia: Veronica Calarco and Sue Kneebone

Wales: Iwan Bala and Lee Williams

USA: Kim Waale and Mary Giehl

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I grew up not knowing the language of my country (East Gippsland) or the traditional names of the places. Most of the places have been named after the white men who settled the area, or after places they like. Even when the name is derived from the Indigenous language, I still was not taught the meaning. In not knowing the name the history of the place has been lost and why that place was important. One of the main rivers of the area is the Nicholson River. For thousands of years the river was called Yowen-burrun and Dart’yung both meaning “root of water plant”; and Geremoot, the meaning which has now been lost; and Ngarrak walang, meaning “back-stone”. Without taking into account the traditional names the river was renamed in 1839 in honor of Charles Nicholson who was a Colonial Secretary.

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