Unceded Seeded (Ngampa)
a collaboration with ngangki burka senior Kaurna woman Aunty Lynette Crocker
Neon light, steel, dimensions 2600 x 1000.
Photograph by Lana Adams
Unceded Seeded (Ngampa)
Ngampa (Kaurna word for Yam Daisy, Microseris walteri) is a perennial root vegetable, high in starch, and a staple food source for Kaurna. In appearance it is similar to the ubiquitous dandelion, with green leaves at the base of the stem and a bright yellow flower in Spring. When eaten raw it hast a sweet coconut flavour and when cooked is more similar to potato. It can be made into flour and used to bake cakes and bread.
The Kaurna way to cultivate is through digging up the smaller tubers leaving the large ones to continue into the next season, with the digging promoting further spread and growth. Uncle Bruce Pascoe highlights the early colonial records of the cultivation of murnong (Woiwurrung language for ngampa) in his book Dark Emu and the significance that this documentation has in dispelling the hunter-gatherer myth that formed the backbone of 'terra nullius'. These records of cultivation are another tool that can help establish widespread understanding of First Nations methods of agriculture and land custodianship.
In his book Call of the Reed Warbler, Charles Massy talks about giving the land the chance to heal through regenerative agricultural practices. These methods encourage the germination of native Australian seeds that have been dormant beneath the surface since traditional colonial farming practices took over. The native plants that grow then stabilise the soil, increasing water retention, diversifying microbiota and improving the health of the land. Ngampa used to be everywhere around the Tarntanya region prior to the colonial establishment of Adelaide, but overgrazing by horses and livestock wiped out the foliage and flowers, leaving the tubers beneath the surface waiting for the chance to regrow.
Unceded Seeded (Ngampa) is a work that references the land on which the artwork will be installed. It acknowledges the Kaurna culture that has always existed within the land, and it highlights the need for everyone to walk together and work together in healing Country. This is not just a job for First Nations people, and everyone that resides on Kaurna land can celebrate and partake in practicing Kaurna culture. Everyone can feel a sense of custodianship for, and kinship with, the land. The use of neon in this instance acts as a beacon of truth, and in homage to the classic neon motel sign, the red and green allude to the aesthetic of 'No Vacancy'.
Commissioned by Guildhouse with support from the City of Adelaide
Supplied by Adelaide Trade Neon