THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, portrays the Aboriginal beliefs in spiritual existence. According to the tribes that first settled down in the continent, the Dreaming's roots date all the way back to the very begging of the creation of the world. The meaning and ideology of the term is generally not so well-understood by non-indigenous people as it is referred to as part of the culture of one of the early nations, which differs from modern perceptions.
The Spirits were the creators of everything. They made the land and the seas, the rocks and the plants, the sky and the earth. They were the higher power and the Australian Aborigines spent their lifetimes honoring this power, which guided their path and shaped their way of thinking. Not only creators of everything, which could be seen as well as felt, the Spirits also gave the Aborigines the Dreaming.
The time when everything started existing according to the initial Australians, was called the Dreaming. This is the foundation of the continent's culture. The origin of the Dreaming goes way back - 65 000 years back in time to be exact. The Ancestors of the nation shaped the land, forming some parts of it as sacred. The Aborigines were very careful and overprotective of those places, strongly believing in their significance.
The Australian Aborigines are known to have believed that the world didn't have any shape and was therefore empty. Darkness dominated, and life was simply asleep, but this changed when the creation began happening. After the Dreaming and the influence of the Spirits, objects began taking shapes and came to be. They created the four elements: water, earth, air and fire, as well as all the planets, the Sun and the Moon. The Dreaming therefore is a continuous process, which never ended. It is a small cosmos on its own, unifying the past, present and the future into one.
The Australian Aborigines' home riches so many vivid areas of the continent, including Fraser Island, Tasmania, Palm Island, Groote Eylandt and Mornington Island. The Aborigines had very strong believes in relation to the powers of the land, claiming that they never owned it - it rather owned them. The only reason they were able to call it their home is because they were looking after it and the land was taking care of the people in return.
Equally important to the Dreaming was the tribes' understandings of the disappearance of the Spirits. There came a time, when the creators of everything vanished from sight. Some of them were thought to have started living in sacred places, which is why the Aborigines perceived their homeland to be so sacred. The ancestors of today's Australians used to believe that the creators started living in rocks, in water holes and some went up to the sky to guide the people from above and keep them safe. Others transformed completely, taking the forms of the rain, the lightnings and the thunderstorms so they could be part of peoples' life.
Among the hundred's different Aboriginal languages, there isn't a word to describe 'time', because to them this simply doesn't exist. Dreaming and Dreamtime are used to replace it and summarize the ideologies of the Aborigines about everything they knew, everything they could see, feel and experience. This is why the Dreaming has such a vivid, and overwhelming meaning and has survived the obstacles of time. For the past couple thousand years, the Dreaming has built a rich cultural heritage that can identify a whole nation.
Read more about the Land, its connection to people and the way it has been perceived from different generations in the very first print issue of ORIGIN. The Land Issue covers varied topics, most of which remain related to cultural aspects of the land and its importance.
A lot of people travel to explore places and learn about them which is the message that ORIGIN wants to spread. With traveling, however, comes certain responsibilities that we should all be aware of. Elephants riding has become a popular way to explore locations by land. People have been doing this as part of their trips, mostly to places such as Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and other parts of Asia. It is a common thing to see in certain places in Africa as well. We investigated the activity to explain why it is wrong and riding elephants should be banned everywhere.
Our first print issue studies culture and traveling represented through the land. We explored various location around the globe and learned what makes the land so valuable, which nations cherish it and how it helps us establish an identity. Traveling is important to us but traveling responsibly and making an impact is what we feel proud to stand behind. This is why riding elephants as a way of amusement should be reconsidered.
Let’s talk about the details. Elephants are very caring and extremely intelligent animals. It is a well-known fact that they never forget anything. When kept in captivity instead of spending their life in the wild, elephants die younger. Unlike in other species, this is common for the gentle giants and is often a result for stress.
Many African cultures respect elephants, believing they symbolize strength, loyalty and power. However, power can be a very tender concept. Elephant used as a tourism tool suffer from great pain daily. Elephants can be hurt very severely from the weight of carrying people and a trainer on their backs. The reason for this is the design of their spines. They have sharp protrusions, extending upwards from their spine instead of having round spinal disks. The protrusions and the tissue that serves to protect them can be harmed easily from weight pressure. Once a damage to their spine has been made, there is no going back and sometimes the harm can be irreversible. While this can’t be physically seen, the harm that the chairs can do to the elephants’ skin is. It is often the case that the chairs and the weight on their back can damage the animal’s skin and cause pain to their body. The chair, called Howdah, that gets attached to their backs, rubs on their skin and can cause blisters, which can sometimes get infected.
The training that elephants are required to go through when in captivity sometimes adopts a traditional Thai ‘phajaan’ or ‘crush’ technique. Explaining the technique would compare it to the animals’ spirits constantly and continuously being broken by the means of torture and social isolation. This is done in order to tame them. Elephants are wild animals, this is their nature as they are born in such conditions. Making them safe and obedient around people requires them to go through such training. As horrible as it sounds, in some places young elephants are taken away from their mothers to be abused with nails, bull hooks and bamboo sticks to make them obey rules, given by people. The animals often lack sleep and are starved to become submissive.
Actions from such nature are cruel and harmful as the technique is used to crash the animals’ spirit. Once wild and free, elephants become a source of tourism and entertainment. Nobody, who cared about sustainable tourism should ever ride an elephant.
In a sense, elephants have a human soul. They socialise and feel everything – pain, happiness, grief, sadness etc. They spend their life building families and finding friends. The largest land animals are a gift from nature and it is our responsibility to take special care of them and make sure they live according to their nature. Many animals, who are kept in captivity, are forced to live in isolation and carry heavy loads all day long, which is a wrong way to treat them. Their strength and power shouldn’t be abused but treated gently and celebrated by people. Elephants require minimal care to stay happy and healthy, which comes from giving them freedom to behave naturally and socialise. It is our responsibility to be culturally aware while traveling and make sure to spread awareness about the problem.
You can read the rest of the article as published in the LAND issue.
RACHEL CLAIRE - THE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER WHO DOCUMENTS CULTURE AROUND THE WORLD
Introducing our exclusive interview with the woman behind the lens of @fieldnotes__. We caught up with Rachel Claire to discuss her photography style, how she stays inspired to create and what advice she has for the modern generation of sustainable travellers
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Rachel Claire
23 February 2021
The way I came across Rachel's photography was through Instagram where she is known as @fieldnotes__. With over 30.3K followers on the social media platform, she tells stories of the people and cultures that impact her during her visits to different countries. Rachel has been digitally documenting her travels since early 2014, but it wasn't until four years ago that I was fortunate enough to discover her page. The image that made a great impression on me was one of a man in Indonesia, sitting almost cross-legged, looking at the camera with a smile so bright, so genuine, it made me stop scrolling through the endless feed of travel snaps.
I paid attention to the body of water behind him and the colour of the sky in the background that looked as if it didn't dare turn light pink just yet. The thing that resonated with me the most was not how well the balance between a man and nature was painted. Nor was it the contrast of the calm afternoon captured when the moment was just right. What truly stood out in the photograph was its authenticity. I have seen countless images displaying the magnificence of the Tegallalang Rice Terrace and Pura Luhur Lempuyang's breathtaking view, yet it is so rare to come across a photograph that reflects the essence of a complex island country such as Indonesia as well as Rachel's work does. She had managed to capture Indonesia's spark through the people who call the country their home.
The more I looked at the photograph, the more aware I became of the precision and love that must have gone into Rachel's work. Her photography tells a unique story, allowing the viewer to go back in time and connect to the culture of the places she has visited. From the streets of India to the incredible terrain of Indonesia and the dusty deserts of Egypt, Rachel's photography explores well-known as well as tucked-away destinations across continents.
Ever since I started following her page, I have been constantly inspired by her style and the way she sees the world through a camera lens. Rachel has the talent to give life to what some might perceive as ordinary. In her work, you can see a balance between soft hues and shots that possess salty edginess. The portraits she takes are minimalistic, yet powerful. The way she captures details of architecture and emphasises the beauty of a place in her landscapes have postcard-worthy charm, which can only be described as timeless.
When I approached Rachel for this interview, I was overwhelmed with excitement over having the chance to speak to someone, whose work I had been admiring for so long. Her positive personality preceded her. I could instantly tell she is humble, sweet and possesses an unmatched passion for capturing travel memories in a filtered-down kind of way. Her images are stunning, but her stories and philosophy to learn not just about the beauty of a place, but also about the struggles of the people who live there, elevate her work to an entirely different perspective. The two of us spoke about what photography has taught her, how she defines her own style and what advice she has for adventurers who want to shape a brighter and more sustainable future for travellers.
‘‘My greatest privilege has always been to have the opportunity to immerse myself not only in the beauty of the people and places we visit - but also in the struggles. I am a strong believer that people are not drawn to what we do, but why we do it.’’
Rachel Claire, founder of @fieldnotes__ for NOMADSofORIGIN Magazine
NOMADSofORIGIN: What is the most valuable lesson photography has taught you?
Rachel: Photography teaches you to be present and mindful of your surroundings - although not necessarily a lesson, my photographic career, over time has trained my mind to see the beauty in everything. I find the purest and simplest moments fill my life with the most joy - it’s in those moments that I often forget to take my camera out. I guess you could say the lesson is in learning to enjoy life’s beauty for what it is - camera or not.
NOMADSofORIGIN: A huge focus of your work are shots of wild animals and landscapes in the wilderness that have a postcard-worthy charm. Yet, there is warmth in your photography style that almost acts as a signature and makes the images so unique. How do you achieve the balance of cold and warmth, raw and elegant in your photography?
Rachel: Finding a creative style that resonates with your professional and personal journey takes time - when I was younger I would often feel insecure about my style changing more erratically. As time has passed and I’ve grown into my confidence and sense of self, I’ve noticed a more signature style take place in my work. I still notice changes - but those changes are more micro now - the work I produce now still feels linked stylistically to my earlier work - but I don’t think it ever stops transforming. I’ve learned over time to be at peace with the idea that my work will constantly evolve over time. A long time ago that idea would have scared me - now I see it as an opportunity to challenge myself or try something new. I think this year will see some of the biggest changes in my personal work ever. I’ve never felt more at home in my own artistic process, so hopefully the new body of work will be received well.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Which photographers inspire you and influence your style?
Rachel: I’m less influenced by other photographers and more by the people who I choose to surround myself with - as well as the incredible work I ingest by authors, artists and people who are dedicated to campaigning for the greater good. Right now the people who are top of my inspiration list are Alice Eady and Jack Harries (both Filmmakers and Climate Storytellers), Australian indigenous artist Ryhia Dank, my dear friends Emma Lindegaard (Ceramicist) and James Giddy (painter) and another West Aus photographer and friend Chris Gurney. In terms of straight up photographic influence and inspiration - my favourites at the moment are Matt Porteous and Annapurna Mellor. My longest inspirational affair is with Australian Stylist Sibella Court.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Your visits to Africa have resulted not only in incredible images of the local people, landscape and wildlife, but also in working towards raising awareness about issues such as animal poaching. Do you think young creatives who travel often have responsibility to learn about pressing issues and advocate for positive change?
Rachel: One of the greatest opportunities we are given in whatever line of work we choose is the option to advocate for greater change. It’s such an age-old cliche that we must be the change we wish to see, but there’s a reason that notion lives on. My greatest privilege has always been to have the opportunity to immerse myself not only in the beauty of the people and places we visit - but also in the struggles. I am a strong believer that people are not drawn to what we do, but why we do it. Every trip, every adventure and every assignment has a why.
NOMADSofORIGIN: You are from Western Australia. What are the top 3 things people should do there and places to see when they visit?
Rachel: Western Australia is enormously diverse. From the deep red Pindan (the indigenous name for the red-soil that covers the south-west kimberley region in the north) to the tall karri forests of the South West - the landscape changes constantly. My favourite places are Exmouth (Ningaloo Reef and the Marine sanctuary it provides) - Denmark in the Great Southern and Margaret River - which will always feel like home.
NOMADSofORIGIN: In previous interviews you have said that Cairo, Egypt is your favourite destination to visit and one you would never get tired of photographing. What other places around the world would you say always surprise you in a positive way by managing to provide fun and culturally diverse experience?
Rachel: I was 17 when I first visited Egypt (which is 10 years ago now) and I think about it often when I think of travelling again. It’s so ancient and so raw in the way it’s presented to travellers. I think the Egypt experience frustrates some people - but I get so excited about it’s intensity. At times it’s like a caricature. It’s easy to imagine you’re in another era entirely. I've always been incredibly drawn to archaeology, so my time spent in Libya is also something I reflect on often. I’d love to explore Leptis Magna with fresh eyes - to see how it’s changed after years of war. However, to this day, China is the place that has surprised me the most. I was really absorbed by the history of the Chinese Dynasty during my time in Suzhou - again, I can’t wait to go back.
NOMADSofORIGIN: We love your photography because there is honesty and authenticity in your style. It is almost as if the images you take reflect the art of slow living and allow the viewer to truly connect to the places you portray. How would you describe your own style in a sentence?
Rachel: I think I’ll always be a storyteller by trade. Stylistically that’s what I’ll always be, first and foremost. The academic in me always (ashamedly) shied away from that title - I was afraid I wouldn’t be taken seriously. But history is important. Empathy and love - a sense of belonging and an opportunity to be heard, they’re all important. That’s what storytelling is to me.
NOMADSofORIGIN: You are a nomad by calling - you are often on the road, capturing visual souvenirs of things that inspire you, interacting with locals and manage to stay curious about exploring different cultures. What advice would you give travellers who wish to contribute sustainably to the travel industry?
Rachel: 2020 and the pandemic really shone a light on this. Aeroplanes have been a massive issue for such a long time. There's absolutely no denying the detrimental impact that carbon emission from air-travel is having on our planet. I hope the future brings us a more sustainable way to reach overseas destinations - I know a lot of people I know who were working in a similar field were starting to plan longer, more land-bound projects that offset some of the air travel. I’ve heard rumors of more sustainable electric planes that could be feasible as early as 2030 - but in the meantime, we’re still stuck with what we’ve got.
For a long time I’d been group travelling - sharing busses and vans and hotel rooms with strangers who would become some of my dearest friends. Intrepid Travel is such a great example of how tourism can be more sustainable.
Travellers wishing to contribute more sustainably to the tourism industry can start with group travel. Planning ways to volunteer and give back to the community when overseas can help drive positive change too. Travel by road and train, choose eco-friendly accomodation, support local businesses and never-ever ride elephants (or participate in any animal tourism attraction that is based in cruelty).
NOMADSofORIGIN: What are you working on at the moment?
Rachel: Right now, as Australia is still landlocked I’m working on a multimedia project I hope to have finished by mid-year. I’m also trying to finish curating my print store and website - which have been under construction for a really long time now.
NOMADSofORIGIN: Thank you so much for this interview. It was a pleasure. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Rachel: I know so many people are probably feeling overwhelmed or deflated by the current situation our planet faces. So many dreams and travel plans have been put on hold or cancelled entirely - many people are missing the way things were. The world will still be waiting for us all when the time is right - in this current moment - mother nature gets her own reprieve and we get the opportunity to re-teach ourselves a more sustainable way of living and exploring. I take comfort in knowing I'll never take a minute absorbed in another culture or landscape for granted ever again. I don’t think any of us ever will.
Read Rachel's journal online
See below the photographs we love and follow @fieldnotes_ on social media.
NOMADSofORIGIN x Rachel Claire
This interview appears in NOMADSofORIGIN Magazine print #04 The Escapism Issue