Arboreal Alterations: Tree modification and meaning making from the past to the present

Within Australia and the Pacific region carved (dendroglyphs/arborglyphs), inscribed, marked and modified trees are an important expression of Indigenous visual cultural practice and heritage. The broader category of culturally modified trees includes scarring from canoe and implement manufacture and other cultural activities, as well as non-Indigenous practices of blazing and memorialising.

Culturally Modified Trees have become a growing area of archaeological enquiry. In recent years carved and marked trees have also been an inspiration for contemporary Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. However, these ancient trees are increasingly under threat due to accelerating land clearance, as well as bush fires as climate warms and storms become more frequent. This symposium will investigate arboreal alterations covering historical, archaeological, art and contemporary perspectives.

The symposium is hosted by the ARC ‘Archives in Bark’ Special Research Initiative, a collaboration between ANU, University of Canberra, University of Notre Dame Australia and the University of Western Australia.

Ngambri/Ngunnawal Traditional Custodian Paul Girrawah House will undertake the traditional practice of tree carving- where the bark of a eucalypt is carved or removed to create cultural objects such as shields and coolamons. Registration is essential for this event.

Please visit the event website for more information and to register. 

View the full Arboreal Alterations Symposium program here.

Individual presentations will be 15 minutes, with a Q&A session following each session block. Presentations will be in person only.

We plan to publish the symposium papers (subject to review) in the Terra Australis monograph series.

For the Shirin Yoku Forest Bathing Night Walk event associated with this symposium, please register separately here. Note that tickets are limited and the discount only applies to the Friday night. 



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