21 June 2023

Discover Two Truths about Berry at the brand new OpenField Festival

| Dione David
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Artist Jaz Corr with rust and tar panel painting Two Truths in the background

Jaz Corr’s Two Truths explore a lesser-known origin story of Berry. Photos: Ainslie Co Photography.

Travelling to Berry often from her Kiama home, Jaz Corr saw it countless times – a stylised cut-out portrait of the town’s namesake, brothers Alexander and David Berry.

It seemed an oversight to the Dharawal artist that the lesser-known story of two other brothers who played a significant role in the town’s origins was not represented.

Her new artwork, created for Berry’s highly anticipated OpenField Arts Festival, seeks to address the gap and spark a meaningful conversation.

Two Truths looks at the story of the Aboriginal brothers Broughton (c.1798-c.1850) and Broger (c.1800-1830) and how realities that seem mutually exclusive do exist simultaneously.

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The large two-panel work was created with paint and tar, which Corr says is a “beautiful metaphor for one of the conceptual meanings of the piece”.

“We’ve had a lot of roadworks connecting Nowra and Kiama, people are driving along new highways and the landscape has changed,” she says.

“It draws attention to how we colonise the space and how infrastructure carves its way through Country. It has opened up certain areas and closed off others.

“Some areas we no longer have access to, and that’s why the border of the painting is actually a big fence.

“It is about access – to history, knowledge and Country.”

Aboriginal artist Jaz Corrs hands digging paint into a paint pot

Two Truths was created with paint and tar, which Corr says is a “beautiful metaphor for one of the conceptual meanings of the piece”.

It is not a searing indictment on white Australia, however. Corr’s work explores the duality of modern Australia and explores the idea that it’s possible for two truths to exist side by side.

“We know about the Berry brothers; we see them every time we drive into town. But do we know there were two black brothers who helped them carve out what we know as Berry?”

Through her research for this piece, Corr discovered more about this story, including the fact Broughton helped Alexander colonise the space.

“It caused friction, the way he assimilated in those times. There was something of a split from his culture and his mob. That’s why there are two panels,” she says.

“Because of all the great work he did with Berry, Broughton was given rations and celebrated through the European lens for the great things he did for Berry. But towards the end of his life he changed his path. He rejected those rations and returned to Country, to his mob, because the truth changed for him.

“It poses the questions… Did he cross a line culturally? We won’t ever know for sure because we weren’t there, we’re not Broughton; that’s his story. But we need to question these things.”

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Therein lies the higher purpose of Two Truths – the idea a person’s perception is their reality.

“People may agree with me, they might not. But it’s possible for two things to be true,” Corr says.

“Regardless, these things are worth discussing. They need discussing.”

Corr will delve into this further, share her insights on contemporary aboriginal art and provide an Aboriginal perspective of Berry during the First Nations Voices Panel as part of OpenField.

A brand new four-day festival putting the spotlight on local artists and the village itself, OpenField runs from 22 to 25 June at various locations in Berry.

For more information or to view the full program visit OpenField, or to buy tickets to the events, visit Humanitix.

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