The origins of our artifact were lost in the mythic dreamy times of the clan.
The great leader had smote a tree cleaving a giant slice in a single blow. In penitence he squeezed the clouds to provide his nourishing tears. The timber slab and twisted as it stretched towards the brilliance of the sun. It grew into a fossilized imitation of a giant bark sliver.
The head of our clan discovered this gigantic sheath of ancient redgum on a foraging expedition. It was taken triumphantly to the ancestral home where it came to represent the struggles of conquering the chosen land.
The artist paid tribute to the cultures that had lead us to adopt this promised land. To the drumbeat of Rolf Harris he daubed mixtures of British Paints into an mock ochre of symbols.
Symbols reflected a vague inspiration from a booklet on traditional aboriginal art that had inhabited our house long before those styles had become more popular than Namatjira’s iconic scenery.
With this seething randomness of appropriated symbols he represented a tangled journey to deep misunderstanding of the history of the land he had come to love.
Secretly, some of the tribe doubted that this twisted token was an appreciation of multicultural values and feared that it might reflect the endemic drive for the bargain. Art is, after all is said and done, in the eye of the beholder, and appreciation of native art is in their purse.
Anointed by our elders, the twisted slab was initially worshiped, but soon it faded into the unconscious clutter with competing votives. It was dwarfed by the increasing arrangements of discarded beer cans that rose with the increasing fervour of universal acclaim.
The tormented timber stood unnoticed for longer than aeons. Like the sentinel in 2001, it awaited with an unknown purpose. Occasionally the tortured monument baffled the unsympathetic derision of visitors. Their consternations might prick the conscientiousness of the younger clan members, but the elders were steadfast in their beliefs. The monument survived the great purging of the cans, and was restored to pre-eminence among the bazaar of obscure memorials.
Times progressed into a fear that the embarrassment would be discovered, and unintended offense given due to ignorance of our tribal secrets. The shrine was part of our cultural heritage and remained the pride of the elders.
Finally the time came. With the passing of the grand patriarch the ancestral homelands were ravaged. There was a great pillaging and many artifacts disappeared long before they could be given their due respect, but the memorial persisted, ignored by a looter who could see no value to fund his covetous cravings.
The new generations ceremonially disposed of the past. The only reminder of the monument was a small painting that echoed the elders sentiments. Peculiarly this rendition was genuine. The looter had missed it in his haste to prise undue values from the homeland, and it was resurrected to whereabouts safe from avaricious plunder.
Meanwhile the mangled monument was ceremoniously dumped, unwanted, into the mysts of the local tip. For all we know has been scavenged and resurrected. It will be valued for new reasons and continue its monumental journey in an unknown guise.
Perhaps our descendants will lay claim to this highly-valued artefact of their cultural heritage.