This blog brings great excitement to share with you our finished Gathering Circle!
If you haven’t already, you can catch up on the first half of the journey here.
Our finished Gathering Circle is now proudly standing in our front entrance way. It is a symbol that visibly translates our commitment to honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. But more than that, it tells a story and represents our journey so far and the path ahead.
Before installation, there was a bit of work involved to prepare the space. After we’d cleared the area Tracey, our Choklits veteran, reflected on seeing the space underneath the ivy for the first time in years!
Once the space was ready, Simone (the incredible artist behind the paintings) joined us to guide our work with her creative talent. Here’s a look at how the installation went…
Once everything was “just so” and final adjustments had been made, we invited the children to cast their discerning eyes over our new space. Comments and observations included;
“Wow, there’s a goanna!”
“I love it!”
“Look, it’s Rainbow Snake!”
“The Australia’s my favourite”
With the stamp of approval it was offical, our Gathering Circle was complete!
So, what is Gathering Circle? Simone explained it this way:
“The Gathering Circle represents an unbroken circle and connected family; a place where people come to sit together, yarn and learn from their Elders”.
We sat together to share the first yarn. I could see the magic of this special place as Simone wove visions about her journey, her history and the story behind each piece.
The yarn behind each piece, as shared by Simone:
This piece incorporates the Aboriginal flag, a well-known symbol of Aboriginal people. The designer Harold Thomas says the colours of the flag represent the Aboriginal people of Australia, the red ochre colour of earth and a spiritual relation to the land and the sun, the giver of life and protector. You can find out more about the flag and its history here.
This piece represents the families that make up our Choklits Community. The green circles symbolise the family each child comes from. The shapes and lines connect the backgrounds, culture and places of each family.
This piece represents the children of Choklits, their families and the Choklits Educators all coming together as a Community. The Choklits purple colour interwoven throughout helps shows the connection and unity of our Community.
This piece is a sharing of the Wurundjeri land, which we learn and play on. Simone explained that ‘Wurun’ means ‘manna gum tree’ and ‘Jeri’ means ‘witchetty grub’.
Bunjil, the creator spirit of the five Kulin nations, is often talked about at Choklits and this piece displays beautifully our favourite eagle. The five spirits are;
– Boonwurrung (Boon-wur-rung)
– Dja Dja Wurrung (Jar-Jar-Wur-rung)
– Taungurung (Tung-ger-rung)
– Wathaurung (Wath-er-rung)
– Woiwurrung (Woy-wur-rung), commonly known as Wurundjeri.
This piece depicts an often-told Dreamtime story of Rainbow Serpent. There are many versions of the story, depending on where and who tells them. This is the one Simone shared with me, and it comes from the Yorta Yorta mob.
“In the time of creation there was a calm over the vast, mist-covered land. Biami the Creator Spirit saw the old woman, Gumuk Winga, with her empty coolaman. She looked very hungry. Biami then told the old woman to go and search for some yams. So she then picked up her digging stick and set out across the land with her dog.
The old woman walked and walked a long way away and could not see any yams. As time went on she became very weary, walking slowly with her digging stick dragging along the earth. Day turned to night, she walked far under the moonlit sky, singing softly and hoping for some yams to appear. Biami waited for the old woman but could not see her anywhere. Biami called out to Gane, the great rainbow Snake, who was laying asleep beneath the earth. When Gane heard Biami calling out to him, he lifted his head and made his way to the surface of the earth. He lay there looking out over the dry land when Biami asked him to go and find the old woman and bring her back safely.
Gane then set off following the marks in the earth left by the old woman’s digging stick. His great body moved across the land pushing the earth into hills and valleys, leaving deep crevices in the earth. Beautiful colours from his body spread throughout, covering trees, plants, birds, butterflies and all other creatures.
Then Biami called out in a loud voice, and thunder cracked as lightning flashed across the sky and rain fell. It rained for days, filling up the deep crevices in the earth that were made from the rainbow snake’s body. Then the rain stopped and the mist cleared and the river Dungala was formed. This is the name used by the Yorta Yorta people. Others know it as the Murray River” – extracted from this webpage.
For this piece, Simone used symbols to tell a story. You can see kangaroo tracks going toward watering holes and goanna looking for food. The symbols highlight the way stories can be recorded to share culture and teach others. They represent Aboriginal culture and tradition.
The yellow pieces join the Gathering Circle together. They create the shape and connectors so that it’s an unbroken circle, which means and symbolises an unbroken family. This picture was taken before we installed our Gathering Circle, we laid out the different pieces to ensure the design would work perfectly with our entrance area.
After my yarn with Simone, I came away with the feeling of appreciation for the relationship we’d built and the insights shared, hurt for some of the things I’d learned, wonder at the stories Simone had inscribed onto each piece, and with lots more to find out.
I can’t wait to see the many more moments and opportunities our Gathering Circle will bring us at Choklits.
Simone’s last thoughts were “to be respectful”, a sentiment we share with the belief that we can make our thoughts and actions count for current and future generations.
This Choklits blog post authored by Dee Wasserfall, Choklits Child Care Pre-Kindergarten Room Leader.
Choklits Child Care, 319 Canterbury Road, Ringwood (opposite the Ringwood Golf Course near the Canterbury Road Eastlink offramp).