More than What You See

Powerhouse Publication: 1001 
Poem by Charmaine Papertalk Green

It’s more than a tree, isn’t it?
The bark, the trunk, the branches
Are not just selected by our hand
But from a memory one may
not even understand at first

The trunk and the bark reach are
Far beyond just protecting the tree
A coolamon emerges from cultural
Practices thousands of years old
Carrying bush tomatoes to survive

A goanna lays awaiting inside a branch
To be carved into existence making
Stories of a staunch people’s visible
First Nations people’s connecting to
land they are not strangers or visitors

When we see an echidna, it is so special
Evoking yarns about culture and family
The spirit of our ancestors stands firmly
we are reminded and that our culture
vessel is not hollow it is where echidna lives

The colours of desert red hot beautiful
female culture narrative so culturally rich
old stories through lizard and bush tomato
onto soft floating fabrics of a society far away
But it is female story making this object belong

It’s more than a tree, isn’t it?
When one can experiment with design
To create chairs created from wood
To sit and drink tea and coffee from
Teapots not found out on the campfire

OBJECT NO. 96/356/3
Carved goanna by Queenie Kemarre

About the Author

Charmaine Papertalk Green is a Wajarri, Badimaya and Wilunyu woman of the Yamaji Nation. A visual artist, author, poet, storyteller and social science researcher, she has written five books. Her awards include the Australian Literary Society Gold Medal 2020 and Victorian Premier Literacy Award for Poetry 2020. Papertalk Green’s most recent publication Art (Magabala Books, 2022) continues a collaboration with John Kinsella. Her poetry is studied as part of school curricula.

Powerhouse Publication: 1001

1001 by Powerhouse, front cover and spine.

This work appears in the latest Powerhouse Publication, 1001 Remarkable Objects. A celebration of the scale, breadth and relevance of the decorative arts and design collections held by Powerhouse Museum it catalogues the eponymous exhibition that opened at Powerhouse Ultimo, 26 August 2023. The publication opens with a series of 32 still life images produced by photographer Lauren Bamford in collaboration with art director and stylist Sarah Pritchard. It is punctuated by 15 narratives, from the four curators plus 11 Australian authors commissioned by Powerhouse to respond to one or more remarkable objects.

Order yours here

1001 Remarkable Objects

UltimoCLOSED IN 2024


The Powerhouse acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the ancestral homelands upon which our museums are situated. We respect their Elders, past, present and future and recognise their continuous connection to Country.

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