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Harnessing the valley’s Aboriginal history

Orara Williams 1873, one of the men identified and researched in Photographs Are Never Still. Image courtesy Grafton Regional Gallery.

Years of research and the resultant publication of the 240-page Photographs Are Never Still will be celebrated at the book’s launch at the Grafton Regional Gallery at 10am on Thursday November 2.

The book, a catalogue of John William Lindt photographs of Aboriginal people taken at Grafton in 1873, also includes the first written history of the valley’s Aboriginal people since European arrival.

Photographs Are Never Still presents a search for the identity of the people in Lindt’s photographs, which are held in the gallery’s collection.

The Lindt Research Group was the integral force in this search, which began when the Cullen family donated 37 of Lindt’s portrait photographs to the gallery in 2004. The search identified five people depicted in the portraits and revealed many stories and histories.

Yaegl Elders chair and long-term group member, Elizabeth Smith, said the journey of the Lindt Research Group was significant over the years, and leading the direction of the research was hugely important for the project’s success and cultural importance.

Photographs Are Never Still opens with a poem, The Journey, by Irene Daley, followed by Deborah Taylor’s welcome and introduction.

Dr Kate Gahan has written the history of the Aboriginal people in the Clarence Valley and collated research against each of the Lindt portrait photographs.

Dr Gahan said the process had inspired her to continue working with cultural heritage, language and the move to educate younger generations and the wider community about the importance of Aboriginal culture.

The celebrations, which begin at 10am, will include performances by local Aboriginal dance groups, music, poetry reading, food, art displays, craft stalls, cultural activities and more until noon.

Entry is by gold coin. Please book to attend the launch, contact the gallery on 6642 3177.

Four Bundjalung, Yaegl and Gumbaynggirr elders, who are long-term members of the Lindt Research Group, Robyne Bancroft, Irene Daley, Deborah Taylor and Elizabeth Smith, will welcome everybody to country.

Photographs Are Never Still was made possible with the support of The Gallery Foundation, University of New England and Clarence Valley Council.