(Art) March 2003 Ouyen Women’s Rain Dance (with Dorothea Mackellar) by Eileen Haley

Quilt by Eileen Haley. Part of her EarthWomen series.
Quilt by Eileen Haley. Part of her EarthWomen series.

Women of the Mallee district of Western Victoria dance for rain during the long drought of the early years of this century. They are accompanied by Dorothea Mackellar, Australia’s foremost and most popular poet of the land.

The Ouyen women have doffed the apparel of their everyday rural lives and begin to merge with the land.

The background is a patchwork of dry paddocks, and evokes the traditional wagga, an Australian quilt devised and used by itinerant workers (swaggies) in the hard depression times of the 1890s.

The magical beings of Australia are not apparent in this work, though there are glints and hints in the threads and patterns of the background. As white settlers and newcomers we will have to make our imaginations wise in the ways of this Land if we wish to see Her first-born and interact with them. The skyclad dance is a promising augury, as is the work of Australian nature poets such as Dorothea Mackellar.

Read Meet Mago Contributor Eileen Haley.

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