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JONES, Jonathan; untitled (giran)

Jonathan Jones
in collaboration with Dr Uncle Stan Grant Snr AM

Understanding wind is an important part of understanding country. Winds bring change, knowledge and new ideas to those prepared to listen.

Jonathan Jones

Jonathan Jones’s untitled (giran) 2018 is reminiscent of a map of intersecting wind currents, evoking birds in flight, and knowledge, change and new ideas circling above our heads. Made of almost 2000 sculptures and a soundscape, the installation brings the culture, language and philosophy of the Wiradjuri people of New South Wales to Kurilpa, a longstanding and important meeting place for Indigenous people, on the Maiwar (Brisbane) River. The sounds of wind, bird calls, breathing and Wiradjuri language animate the gallery space.

This is the most recent in a series of collaborations that Jones has undertaken with elder Dr Uncle Stan Grant Snr, and draws on the Wiradjuri concept of giran. Giran describes the winds, change, as well as feelings of fear and apprehension. Traditional tools are at the heart of the artwork. Bound to each tool with handmade string is a small bundle of feathers – found treasures – carefully gathered and sent to Jones by people from across the country.

The circling murmuration of flying ‘birds’ is composed of six tool types. Like the winds, Wiradjuri philosophy divides them into male and female groups: bagaay – an emu eggshell spoon, bindu-gaany – a freshwater mussel scraper, waybarra – a weaving start, bingal – a bone awl, dhala-ny – a wooden spear point, and galigal – a stone knife. Each tool has limitless potential.

Jones worked with family, Wiradjuri community members and long-time artistic collaborators to make the tools and to craft the feathers into tiny ‘wings’. The process of making – gathering and transforming the raw materials – brings people together, enhances connections to land, culture and language, and strengthens ties to generations who have passed on.