Warndu's Damien Coulthard drew inspiration from the Flinders Ranges for his artwork that he did in 2018 as part of a songlines collection that Warndu uses in our gift wrapping. The two pieces are both delicate and rhythmic and focus on the creation story of Akurra.
According to the Adnyamathanha people, the Flinders Ranges, with Wilpena Pound as its iconic central feature, was formed by a sequence of episodes involving travelling serpents (Akurra).
Damien Coulthard tells these stories in works created in a series Songlines painted in 2018l When he talks about his paintings, the artist explains that the Dreamtime also laid down the patterns of life for the Aboriginal people. It establishes the structures of society, rules for social behaviour such as marriage, and the ceremonies performed to ensure continuity of life and land. As a schoolteacher and artist, Coulthard seeks to empower young Aborigines to find a better path in life.
The Akurra giant serpent is a scary character with a beard and fangs. He is the guardian of water holes and travelled down to Lake Frome (not knowing it was a salt lake). This is Akurra lying across the lake after drinking from it and then spewing it all out. Aboriginal people associate this area with bad spirits, and later it was where uranium was discovered and mined. Ironically, the mines have now helped the struggle for Native title because the money had to be paid by the mining companies to the Aborigines, and the money from that has enabled the acquisition of Wilpena Pound, which is now a major tourist development.
Damien Coulthard, Akurra, the Creator and Keeper of the Flinders Ranges, 2018. Ochre and acrylic on canvas, 170 x 110 cm
Damien Coulthard, Akurra at Lake Frome, 2018. Ochre and acrylic on canvas, 100 x 152cm
The creation story tells us how the rocky Flinders Ranges were formed and then separated from the adjacent plains by a magnificent sweep of Urdlu’s tail; how Lake Frome (Munda) came into being as a salt lake and where the pointed hills (Thunupinha) came from