‘Before the Clearing: The Legacy of Ludwig Leichhardt’ is the culmination of Simon Normand’s on-going passion project examining the rich, complex and evolving histories of the countries explorer Ludwig Leichhardt traversed on his epic journey from Queensland through the Gulf Country and Kakadu to Port Essington in 1844-45.
This unique project brings together Normand’s continuing collaborations with elders from the Borroloola, Ngukurr and Injalauk Art Centres (mapping oral histories and song cycles), alongside his own artworks that explore traditional stories, his personal connection to the land and Leichhardt’s journal entries as one of the first European’s to experience indigenous civilisations in the far north.
This publication will feature artworks, maps, artefacts, newly commissioned works by indigenous artists of the gulf region and Arnhem Land, as well as a number of essays examining both contemporary and historical issues; The importance of re-naming country from an indigenous perspective; A discussion of the true nature of Aboriginal civilisation at the time of European colonisation and how Leichhardt’s expedition sheds light on this; The cultural implications of Australian anthropologist Norman Tindale’s iconic 1940 map ‘Tribal Boundaries in Aboriginal Australia.
This fundraising campaign aims to raise $60,000 to assist in paying the authors of the commissioned essays, as well as the graphic design, printing, editing and photography for the publication.
The book will be printed in 2020/21 and will accompany a planned exhibition of the same title.