CLAYTON JOHN‘s latest series, Larapinta Dreaming, was inspired by a fundraising walk on the Larapinta Trail in northern Australia, near Alice Springs and Uluru. Clayton is currently showing these artworks at the Linton & Kay Gallery in Subiaco, Perth, Australia. You can also visit his work on Instagram at @clayton_images.
AN ART ESSAY
In July 2022, I walked the Larapinta Trail in the center of Australia near Alice Springs. It was a fundraising walk for the environmental NGO, The Climate Council.
The Larapinta, which literally means “salty water” in Arrernte (the local Indigenous language), is thought to be the oldest riverbed on planet Earth. Some of the gorges on the trail are home to up to 60,000 rock carvings or petroglyphs, made by the first Australians during two distinct time periods – 10,000 years ago and 3,000 years ago. They made these carvings by hitting one rock with another and gradually chipping away at a large flat rock surface.
To honor nature is to honor ourselves,
honor in equality and reverence
rather than in dominance.
The really fascinating thing is the idea that the same creation stories have been told on that country for all that time. The characters in the stories and the petroglyphs are the same as those told to young Arrernte girls and boys today. The tjukurrpa (dreamtime story) of the Arrernte revolves around the caterpillar as the central creation being. This got me thinking of the story of Kakabhushundi, the sage in the ancient Hindu texts who transformed into a crow and chose to live out his days in that form. He was the first person to narrate the Ramayana and, being immortal, will remain alive on Earth until the end of its existence.
These parallel stories got me thinking just how circumscribed our creativity and inventiveness have become under our modern systems of education – why not a crow or a caterpillar as the central character in our texts? How human-centric have we made this world, removed farther and farther from nature. When once nature was the grand narrator (and animator) of our ancient cultures of this Earth, now it is humans. How we have strayed from the source…
The comment of one of my spiritual Guides, Chariji, “God made man in His image whereas the tragedy of the modern world is that man has made God in his image,” comes quickly to mind.
How fitting then is the Principle, “Simplify your life so as to be identical with Nature.” It strikes me as the quintessential call of the hour. To honor nature is to honor ourselves, honor in equality and reverence rather than in dominance.
Artworks by CLAYTON JOHN
Clayton is an award-winning photographer and video journalist, who has also been a mixed media artist since 2016. He was a finalist in the Fine Art Category of the London International Creative Awards 2021 with Imaginata Australis.