In the Deep Underground and Up Above

FILM 2018

In the Deep Underground and Up Above, trailer

In the Deep Underground is an experimental three channel documentary that questions the deep imbedded colonial history within Australia.'What is seen and not seen, what is said and not said.' Through organic visual interludes, and transitions, some abstract, some vivid, we are taken on a journey through a small town in Western Australia to hear the personal stories of three women, and their accounts of living in this landscape and its history. 

In the Deep Underground and Up Above, SPACED 3:north by southeast, Group Exhibition Art Gallery Of Western Australia, Perth.

3 channel, colour,33 mins. A film by Michelle Eistrup

Voices in Order of Appearance:
Michael Omoke
Rebecca Walker
Mitchella Hutchins
Tessa Grimshaw

Research Assistance:
Celia Clare

Transcriptions:
Anita Smith and Alice McAuliffe

Locations:
Ngilgi Cave, Yallingup
Mine Site, Sue's Road
Tuart Forest National Park
Fairlawn, Busselton
Underwater Observatory Busselton Jetty, Busselton, Wonnerup House, Wonnerup
Ludlow Timber Mill and Townsite

Locations Manager and Assistant:
Jacquie Happ

Videography
Joe Jones and Michelle Eistrup

Sound and Music 
Anders Juhl

Visual Editing, Interview Recordings and First Narrator Text 
Michelle Eistrup

Text Editing
Anders Juhl and Michelle Eistrup

An International Art Space commission for spaced 3: north by southeast

Produced with the support of
Statens Kunstfonden
The Danish Arts Council
Blaine Western
Rebecca and Alex Walker
AAGEO Cultural Complex
City of Busselton
Heathway Act, Belong Commit
The Western Australian Heritage Council Fabrikken for Kunst og Design  
LIA, International Residency in Leipzig

 

MANUSCRIPT_In the Deep Undergground and Up Above

Rebecca

Probably the most time consuming can be the fencing, it just takes I guess a kangaroo to go through and you can’t have the electrics down or the cows make their way onto the main roads. And now Busselton is getting so …Well we’re 2000 acres, so one of the biggest farms down here, in the South West. And then I live about a k down Chapman Hill Road, so we’re all the way down that way as well. Just before the golf course. So we’re quite big for one person. He’s out til late and coming and going, I’m just the person that’s constantly there for kids, school, sport, and running around.

I was thinking of that in terms of even today, in this time you know 30 years later, how, while we’re trying to find ourselves in Busselton and work hard and who we are, we constantly will get a perception or a judgment, if people don’t know us very well on what they see with their eyes here right now. So there is a contrast between what people see and then what a reality is. 12 years we have had 1 escape and 1 trip away from this farm and this life and a lot of people have gone you’ve got this and that because of Alex’s family and I will go, actually extreme debt and detriment with Alex’s family. 

The reason we had 1 holiday and actually a car is because of my family. So now I have learnt to basically just blurt it out and say it because then as I can feel my way in discussions and conversations I can here when people are eluding, kind of a judgment made in a comment, and I basically just blurt it out and say it (as it) is now. A lot of that is breaking into a community and a town to kill that illusion that is far far from the truth in reality. They will see this big house and we basically say, we can’t hire anyone to help us yet, so we do all the cleaning and maintenance and gardens and everything ourselves with this dream that we will get a business up and hire someone. 

We didn’t build and create this house but we have to maintain it. So every form of window you can see, even actually doors where there’s glass was covered in venetian blinds and they were all closed.

So it was very much a, I’ll look out but you don’t look in. Very closed up. A lot of dolls and eyes everywhere, so you could sit in this one seat where we are now and you could almost count 12 faces that stared at you, so it quite an eerie, like you were being watched from the inside all the time. It carried that feeling in here and.. just the energy was deep and dark.

I have had that said to me many times, “Now you don’t say what goes on behind closed doors". "Oh no, of course not I wont say anything.” I had to promise that all the time to my mother in law.I was sat on that couch over there not long after being married and told I wasn’t Mrs. Walker. She said "I’m the Mrs. Walker of town*, I said, "it’s alright". She would speak as if she was a pioneering woman. Alex has got memories of her going to speak at many lectures and functions of being a lady of the land. Kind of all the big stories of the Hendersons', all the big women on the stations, she linked herself to them, in fact took some of their stories of their lives and her mind is that’s how she lived. So in her world and her perception of who she was she spoke as being a lady of the land and off a farm and worked very hard. Stopping cattle, working with cattle when, when… I just had to look at the ground ´cause I was like, uhhh, that didn’t happen.

Everything was about flashing it around.  And when people turned up she would be in the jewels, you know, thousands to millions of dollars of jewellery, or laid over her, and gowns and furs and the latest and that’s how she wanted to be perceived. And then when the public or the friends weren’t around anymore it was back to throw everything else on, the other mask, the other mask came back on, the foul language and mouth and behaviour.

Alex’s older sister had kind of explained that contrast in her childhood where everything was about the party and society and being on the top and being as high as you can go, hosting the party’s and the perception of how little girls should be. So, Alex hadn’t been born and there was just the 2 girls and they had to be dressed up in their best, best clothes, best attire.

Alex’s sisters were brought up like that and it was just sit there and play with your dolls, do not speak or utter a word. They were just on show; they just had to parade around like little dolls. So what people saw when they came to the party was endless drinks, endless food, they were often in ball gowns, there was just no expense spared. So she said for a child, it was extremely confusing to know which side you wanted to come out. So where the parties were, everything was pristine, polished, in it’s perfect place so parts of the house people could go to were just immaculate and perfect.Beyond that everything was turned upside down and a mess and there were certain parts of the house that you could never go to because that lay the other side of the life, what else looked like. When the party finished, they were often waken up from their beds and yelled at and abused for not acting in the appropriate way.She said, as little children you didn’t get that, and often it ended up in   pleading and crying for their lives. Being a farm, there were loaded guns, just in the kitchen, and many a time those loaded guns were aimed at them. 

So the extreme contrast couldn’t be anymore severe. Alex’s sister often said she would always remember the party ending basically the last car going down the driveway and would just hide in her bed, hoping nothing would happen that night. If nothing did happen, often it was going to bed hearing things being smashed, anything in the kitchen was just smash, smash, smash or yelling and screaming.

Often when in front of the friends and they’d had had a quite a bit to drink, she would put her cigarettes out on Lizette’s chest. It has caused a lot of problems for her now as an adult. A lot of kind of post-traumatic stress, a lot of counselling, but she’s in a phase of trying to do the healing, speaking to family about why didn’t you do anything about it? Why didn’t you stop it?

 

The hardest journey for her too that she has been left joint with Alex as guardian of her Mum so in front of society and her home, cause she’s in a home, she has to look like the doting, caring, adoring daughter who will do anything for her Mum, which she does. But behind that is all this pain and pain and pain and this is what you did but it can’t be spoken about. Literally Lizette was washing the walls and the water was just filthy dirty that came off. That’s kind of I guess that was one stage of the cleansing process that went with it.

And just opening it up, and removing because every window was just shuttered down with venetians so you couldn’t look out, and dark. I think removing everything from windows, letting light come in, just changing the physical place a little bit to make it more airy. Oh, the energy here that has just changed so much in recent times as we’ve done the clearing and the boxing and tidying up and.. Yeah, it has just shifted the energy profoundly. I could only do, all of us could only do a few hours here at a time and just left heavy, depressed. It was … anyone who walked in here, didn’t even know us from a bar of soap but had just come for some reason would just be like oh... You could just feel it. Even when we were doing, sketching up our logo, and a lady came out to help us out with bit of it and she just felt it without a word and we had only just met her for the first time. It was very, very, very intense the energy here in the end, very dark, black, heavy. But now, I just can’t explain the difference, just light airy, I feel happiness coming back again. It feels like a lovely spot now, it’s just so different.

I think we should be learning more about different aspects of Australian history through our schooling. And it should be compulsory; they’re not forced to study our history at high school level. At university I chose to study Australian history and Aboriginal history, that was my choice. But even in our high school system, no one is forced to study history, and so many people in my generation don’t know the real history. And I find that really sad, really really sad. Even when I did Aboriginal studies at university and we went to the site of the Pinjarra massacre, and … it was just a park with a BBQ.

MANUSCRIPT
MICHAEL & MICHELLA

MICHAEL

In the history of British colonialism we have been made to believe that certain questions can only be asked and answered by specific groups. 

 

MICHELLA

Quite often you’ll get told that you have to be like this or you have to be like that or you have to have this belief. 

MICHAEL

The divide and conquer mentality bears repercussion in terms of who can say what and speak what, and where you should go and not go. 

MICHELLA

 I think the biggest thing with the Australian history, and it’s a perception from all the wider community, not any one colour. There’s just not enough education. People just haven’t learnt enough to know enough to understand enough before they make those big complex opinions that they have very little knowledge based on.

MICHAEL

I mean I can go to South Africa and some parts of it reminds me of Jamaica and Jamaica has nothing to do with South Africa. Or, put it differently, Kenya, Kingston and Nairobi look alike. These types of things make me kind of go; wow … the impact of British colonialism has been quite extreme.

MITCHELLA

It took 200 years to create some of these issues, and unless we start dealing with them in a realistic way, it’s going to take a lot longer to heal some of these issues. 

MICHAEL

And so yes, I am Black, and grew up in another former British colony.

The difference is that here in Western Australia; the environment is especially raw and sore as if you are stepping off right after a history of slavery and genocide. 

MITCHELLA

It hurts me so much because one old bloke when I was a TV reporter, he was the blackest Peter Costello I had ever met. And he come from Darwin and he said; Baby, when they come to take me, I was only a small baby on my mothers, like you know a 2 year old. And I can remember they chained me and my brothers and sisters to the tree on the big cuffs on Mum’s arms and chained Mum by the neck to the tree and when the big ship come to take us away, because they shipped the kids down to Roelands and that, you know, up around to Perth uhm to Sister Kate’s and places. He said; when the ship come to take me the policeman come and pick me up and put me on his shoulder and dragged my brothers and sister along by the chain. And I looked over at my mother screaming at the tree and that was the last time I ever saw my Mother, Mitch. And that’s just killed my heart, that’s how he said it to me you know. 

And I’ve always had my Mum and my Nana and Pop. And that just the thought that was the last time that old man ever saw his mother again, you know. A lot of people like to say to me big judgments and opinions.  

I say don’t make big judgments cause I couldn’t imagine what I would do because for me it would be like chopping like my arm, chopping off my leg, crushing my very spirit and then pulling my heart out. And there’s other people saying; stand up and walk like the rest of us. Because it will be bloody hard. So some people do drink too much, some people do self-harm, some people are angry and bitter but some people may have a right to be, you know

Some people have been through one layer of mission system and some people have been through 3 generations of mission system. Some people carry a little bit of hurt, confusion and distrust. Some people carry a lot. But like I was saying to you last time, Emotional luggage is regarded as what it is and it’s carried on both sides of the fence. It’s handed down from one generation to the next. If it’s not unpacked, dealt with. You still gotta carry your luggage.


THANK YOU goes to Art GEO and the City of Busselton for a working space and living accommodations. And all the funders; the Danish Arts Council; Heathway’s Act, Belong Commit program; The Western Australian Heritage Council; and The Danish Art Workshops as well as Fabrikken for Kunst og Design, that will provide space for the rest of the production, LIA, International Residency in Leipzig, who have contributed to making this production possible, without these resources this investigation and artistic endeavour would not have been possible.

Thank you to all who have participated with their time and energy, their enlightenment, guidance and love throughout. I wish to thank Vicky and Andy who has been my lifeline when all went wrong, listened and gave their feedback and Soula who was a constant ear to my constant recap. The Women: Gloria, Lola, Tessa, Robin and Amanda for some glorious weeks, their guidance, and giving me glimpses and momentous openings into their lives. Amanda- a special thanks for your guidance, up-front honesty, and truth in every circumstance. To Joe, thank you for being a really good photographer, and assisting me. You made some amazing images for the film, and for us finding timely and simple solutions for complicated filming situations. Anita, Alice and Scott for their transcriptions, which are fabulous to have now as I focus on writing the manuscript. Mitchella, a special thank you for your wisdom, and understanding of the whole. Rebecca and Alex for allowing to film freely in their home. Toni and Wayne for giving me insight into their life, and for allowing me some time with their company. And Jacquie—brilliant planning and scheduling who really contributed with a structure to the entire production, and giving me a home when I needed one. Celia for your heartening laugh, wit and humour always able to put me in a good mood. And thank you goes not least to Marco, who in your own way has always kept me on top of the difficulties with your insight, and needling precision was needed to grasp a difficult situation.

To all the other participants a big thank you and eternal gratitude for your time, energy and contribution; Anne, Barbara, Francis, David V., Elaine, Emma Clare, Vernon, Julian, Jane, David P., Pradeep, Richard, Todd, and Yati.

Thank you to all that gave access to the location for filming purposes, and to those who are not named but have also contributed even if it was that small chat, thank you it might have just given that needed insight.

In the Deep Underground and Up Above(2018)

In the Deep Underground and Up Above, Tessa Grimshaw, Gloria Hill,Lola Garlett and Michelle Eistrup, SPACED 3:north by southeast, Group Exhibition Art Gallery Of Western Australia, Perth. Image: Marco Marcon

In the Deep Underground and Up Above, Lola Garlett and Michelle Eistrup, SPACED 3:north by southeast, Group Exhibition Art Gallery Of Western Australia, Perth. Image: Marco Marcon