Emu in the Sky by Kyle Pickett (Australia). “When the Yallabirri (emu) appears in the sky in preparation for the laying of the eggs.” Image Credit: Kyle Pickett/Shared Sky
by Karl Gruber
A project connected artists in Western Australia and South Africa, where the two parts of the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope will be built.
SINCE THE DAWN of our species, humans have been fascinated by the night sky, and celestial objects such as stars or planets feature in some of humankind’s most ancient artworks.
For some Aboriginal groups, the stars have historically provided pointers to seasonal events or have been tied up in Dreamtime narratives.
For the Yamaji people of the Murchison region of Western Australia, for example, the appearance of an emu-like shape along the Milky Way has signalled the start of emu-egg collecting season for thousands of years.
“Creation of the Sun” by the First People Artists of the Bethesda Arts Centre (South Africa). “In the early times, the Sun was asleep in his house, shining for himself alone. The Earth was cold and dark. The mothers couldn’t dry the ant-larvae to eat so they were hungry, and the people were cold. Then the old woman gathered the children together: ‘My children, creep up to that old man the sun while he is sleeping. Creep up to that old Sun Armpit, and fling him into the sky, so that the earth can be warm for us, so that all the world will be bright.’
Photo credit: First People Artists of the Bethesda Arts Centre/Shared Sky
Aboriginal art of the night sky
Yamaji and other Aboriginal groups live a different lifestyle to their ancestors, but the night sky remains central to their lives and has now served as inspiration for new artworks.