Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts - Theses

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    Letters to my father: Yan Wanyoo Peepayan
    Frankland, Richard ( 2018)
    Yan Wanyoo Peepayan, Letters to my Father, is the written component of Australia’s inaugural Doctorate of Visual and Performing Arts. The dissertation and its accompanying huge collection of creative works narrate Associate Professor Richard Frankland’s deeply personal and poetic story of a life long journey that performs and documents the complexities of First Nations ways of knowing, being and doing. Frankland, a significant holder of Gunditjmara knowledge, is renowned as an artist-warrior: a community leader and educator, songman, musician, filmmaker, poet, playwright and novelist who uses any medium to tell his stories of the painful past, an optimistic present and hopeful tomorrows. This collection showcases both his voice through art and the ways he facilitates the voices of hidden Australia through art, acts that inspire and energise reconciliation and social change. His contributions aim to revitalise First Nations cultural practices and language and combat the ‘poverty of spirit’ that is the legacy of colonisation. His collection of hundreds and poems and songs sing of what was, what is and what can be. The films and plays such as No Way to Forget (1996), Conversations with the Dead (20002) and Walking into the Bigness (2014), stitch a new cultural tapestry for the nation. His stories strive to shape a new national identity, insisting the past is a foundation for all hope. The collection is a statement that art is a tool for cultural capacity building not only for the First Peoples, but for others, for all. It is a dissertation and collection that addresses the dominant culture front on. The shape of the dissertation is original and non-traditional, it does not look like the customary thesis. Like other First Nations scholars around the world, Frankland has insisted on his own unique shape to facilitate his voice, embracing his culture’s oral and performed knowledge systems that are deeply connected to Country. Readers from the dominant culture engaging with this form of First Nations Storywork will find themselves in the contact zone, the space between the coloniser and the colonised, the First People and the settlers. Frankland treads lightly in the space, without apportioning guilt and blame, acknowledging a shared legacy with an invitation over the cultural abyss to places of possibility and hope. Yan Wanyoo Peepayan, is a series of fascinating and generous access points for the non-Indigenous and First Nations readers alike. He uses his art and voice to assist in both navigating the dominant culture and also in assisting the dominant culture to find a place within Australia by embracing First Nations culture.