There is a very interesting art exhibit at the U.B.C. Museum of Anthropology
that is only here until March 31, so if you enjoy art, want to be a tourist in your own town or you have visitors be sure to catch it. The art is from 10 Indigenous women in Australia and the title of the show is "In Her Words."
It's not clear if the women consider themselves "artists" but they are admired and collected in many of the "best" galleries in the world. They describe how they are relating their understanding of the wanderings of their mothers, the dreams of their fathers, the land as they see it and the stories they have been taught.
The patterns are simple – repetitive dots or lines or both. The simplest materials and patterns result in mesmerizing, huge paintings, often on bark, a few on hollow eucalyptus branches (which in the past were used as ossuaries but now are decorative).
One woman describes how the tiny white petals of a "bush plum" flower would completely cover the ground and her paintings with millions of tiny dots, pull you in like a constellation. Another woman is reminded of fishing nets her grandparents made and covers massive canvases with fine, multi-coloured, intersecting and overlapping lines. A basket maker uses traditional skills for contemporary characters.
All the women are from remote areas in the interior of Australia, all have experienced themselves or through their families, the equivalent of residential schools and are using their art and their stories to teach their children and the rest of the world about their connection to a harsh landscape.
The patterns and the pieces are beautiful – some are inspiring. The stories and histories are interesting and rich. There are a couple of videos and several photos of the artists and their "studios" - mostly outdoors in vast deserts.
If you can, plan a trek to deepest Kitsilano to visit before it leaves, if only to appreciate a whole other perspective and how to document your reality in patterns of simplicity and complexity.