Nigredo

 

1994, 140 x 310cm   NFS

 

It took the best part of ten years, attending the summer business camps, before I felt up to tackling Aranye's invitation to make a painting about the Business ceremony. It's a summary of the last hour of the final morning: a public event celebrating the weeks of Bush Camp, where young initiates have been instructed in Law.  A great deal of community effort goes into staging the ceremony. So, usually more than an individual is subjected to its rigours. Though every young Arrernte man undertakes Business, it is quite clear from discussions with older men that it is nowhere near as tough as it once was. No longer are the deprivations as strict, for one thing. Some young fellows have taken their CD players for company in the camps, for instance. Few ceremonies last the three months that Aranye's had at Atnape. More likely three weeks. And the reciprocal payment to the Elders that was a kangaroo, caught by the initiates, might as easily be made with weed or cartons of beer.

 

I repeated the main image of Joseph Hayes and Jude Johnson, filing in and across the ground to indicate various stations of the event, rather in the manner of Stations of The Cross, as per images in the Catholic Church with which Aranye and Bernard Neal, sitting at left, were familiar.