The CETA (Contemporary Environment Technology Arts) project is running full steam ahead in Coonabarabran. The final stage of Lab 1 was completed last week through community consultation sessions, after the initial mapping of the Ukerbarley property by artists Paris Norton, Annie McKinnon and Dylan Goolagong, with the support of National Parks and Wildlife Services rangers.
The first stage of CETA – with a planned roll-out across the region – is Ukerbarley. Ukerbarley is a property that until recently hasn’t been accessible to Aboriginal people or the broader community. Since the 1920s it has been a private property and is now in the care of National Parks and Wildlife Services, acting caretakers for the traditional owners of the land.
Lead artist Paris Norton – a Gamilaroi woman raised in Coonabarabran – has a reverence for the space. She says ‘The environment is really striking. It’s been untouched for so long. What’s there has always been – it’s uncleared and the animals are unafraid, undisturbed and full of curiosity. The energy of the place is really special.’
The property contains many Aboriginal sites, the meaning of which hasn’t yet been fully explored. Looking at how technology and arts could help a community – to access and map a space in different ways and connect it back to culture – is what inspired the project.
CETA is a chance to reclaim the space culturally. It has become the community’s property through the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which identifies Ukerbarley as an Aboriginal area and so ‘a project like this is an opportunity for community to take back the narrative,’ says Norton.
The community consultation process has revealed a wealth of ideas of how to map and share this narrative, with technological elements allowing an access to Ukerbarley not otherwise possible for some community Elders. These ideas will be developed through Lab 2, which will build on cultural and community engagement and present documentation to the community by the end of the year.