18 October 2011

Antarctic Kingdom of Gondwana Land


Wanda Gillespie
Antarctic Kingdom of Gondwana Land

21 Oct – 26 Nov 2011
Launch 6pm, 20 October 2011
Gallery Three, Craft Victoria
31 Flinders Lane Melbourne

Please refer to Into the Void for the first instalment of the Antarctic Kingdom of Gondwanaland research

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One pitfall to current accepted geographical evidence is the prevelance of fossilised flora recovered from digs. These include banksia serrata, a well-known Australian species that has existed in a modern form for 40-50 million years, a time when the continents of Gondwana began to drift apart. As these objects suggest, banksia plants flourished in Antarctica as late as the Quatenary Period, dating from 1.6 million years ago to the current era. lt now seems possible that the geography of Antarctica remained temperate and densely wooded until as recently as the revised ice age date (3500 BCE).

The recovered artefacts reveal that the inhabitants of Queen Maud Land were master carvers, using the wood readily available to them render dieties and figures for totemic worship. The most intriguing and well-preserved artifacts uncovered yet, these figurative statues were rendered primarily in wood with bone and leather. Their circular formation, meditative expressions, fine detail, and other mystifying objects, suggest a religious or spiritual significance. The special reverence paid to the flora, which appeared carefully arranged alongside the phenomenally life-like statues proposes a form of animism common to many indigenous cultures. Most animistic belief systems hold that the spirit survives physical death. The uncovered evidence has led experts to speculate that this culture’s complex belief system included the view that the spirit passed to an easier world of abundant game or ever-ripe crops, or else to stay on in the world as a malignant spirit. The Queen Maud Land relics speak of prescribed rituals, perhaps to ensure that the soul might journey to the spirit world without becoming lost and thus, wandering as a ghost.