2017-05-03 Wed

Western Australia

I have found myself in several conversations about my home state over the past three weeks, so I thought to summarize what I have told Canadians.

Over the past forty years many people have asked me why Australia, Western Australia in particular, doesn’t do what Israel did in its early years – pushing back the desert ten miles every ten years.

Last time I looked, no matter how you define it, Israel is about fifty miles east-west.

Back at the turn of the previous century (1895 to 1900) Western Australia hatched a plan to bring water from Perth to Kalgoorlie, a distance of three hundred and fifty miles. Charles Yelverton O’Connor was hired as engineer. He designed a clever scheme whereby a pumping station at the foot of a ridge pumped water inland about two miles to a concrete reservoir atop the ridge. From there the water fell by gravity about forty miles to the foot of the next ridge.

Eight pumping stations moved water along a saw-tooth profile. Most of the way the water fell by gravity to Kalgoorlie, elevation 1,700 feet above sea level.


At the time that this scheme was proposed and developed, the population of Western Australia was about sixty-five thousand. Not even a tenth of a million!

Native Art

I doubt that there is an artist of any kind who has not copied a predecessor. Painting, Sculpting, Writing, you name it, we are influenced by the culture around us.

I daresay some painters take a holiday to Australia and return to Canada and experiment with the style of Albert Namatjeera and others.

I read programming code and adopt (“steal”) ideas that I incorporate into my thinking.

What text book in the hard sciences does not have examples, and urges us to copy them, to make use of the techniques?

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So in The Toronto Star, a gallery yanks an exhibition because a native “leader” complains.

I do not know the deep validity of the complaints. I only know what I can read in the newspaper.

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The gist of the complaint seems to be that native artists are under-represented in art galleries.

Can this be because every time an artist tries to establish a display, the display is caused to be yanked because native people complain that there aren’t enough displays of native art?

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And how surprising that there is reduced consultation with the native community. I think if a publisher criticized me for making use of sample code from a text book, I’d probably not mention the publishing house ever again in anything I wrote about programming.

Part of the “learning process” here must be that the native community reacts aggressively when we try to represent their art forms. Where is the value in that?

And does “working so hard ... to make change in the country” benefit by having an art show cancelled?

(signed) “Puzzled” of Toronto.