CONVERSATIONS WITH THE MOB
‘Megan Lewis’s recent Conversations with the Mob featuring the Martu people of the Great Sandy Desert is simultaneously empathetic, beautiful and heartbreaking.’ Tim Winton (2009, p. 11)
Winton T & Mischkulnig M 2009 Smalltown Penguin, Hamish Hamilton, Victoria, Australia
Pick of the Week – The result is a tour deforce of fine, spontaneous photography combined with remarkable first-person narratives from a wide variety of Martu people – The Sydney Morning Herald (2008)
Advice: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers (and others) are advised that this work does contain images and voices of people who have died.
Conversations with the Mob is an intimate photographic portrayal of the Martu Aboriginal people, one of the last Indigenous groups in Australia’s Great Sandy Desert to come into contact with Europeans.
When the Mob allowed a whitefella – photojournalist Megan Lewis – to come and live with them, the understanding was she was there to take photographs to share with outsiders. But as two and a half years passed and Megan absorbed herself in the Mob’s way, it became apparent that the project was more than a book or an exhibition… it was a journey of marpan (healing) for whitefellas and Martu alike.
“Your photos are making Martu look at themselves and think, what are we doing… Now I see why you have to do this, because Martu have to look at themselves.”
Conversations with the Mob captures the reality of a traditional people living neither in their old world or in a white world. Through photographs, oral stories and Megan’s own experiences with the Mob, the reader enters the reality of desert life where health, grief, footy, humour, sorry business and spirits consume daily survival.
In 2005, Megan’s images of the Martu won a Walkey Award. It is the author’s vision that offering Conversations with the Mob to the wider international community will help channel support for initiatives into Martu health, diet and lifestyle.
WARRALONG FOOD PROGRAM
In late 2008, after completing Conversations with the Mob, Megan was personally invited by Martu elders to another desert community called Warralong. They sought her help due to her experience in the Western Desert, to address concerns about their peoples’ physical and emotional wellbeing in a changing world.
With the approval of Strelley Community School Principal Kate McKenzie,
Megan set up a commonsense Healthy Eating Program. Up to seventy school-aged children were moved away from foods high in artificial flavours, sugar, wheat and some dairy; within weeks, with breakfast being the main meal of the day, improvement in their physical and emotional wellbeing as well as their ability to cope with the challenges of the school day and each other was noted by teachers and visiting medical staff. The program is still operating with continued success.
Megan was asked to go further, working with individuals and groups in the community and school to help with their mental and emotional wellbeing. She says: “The aim has been to help create physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy, happy individuals who have the ability to help themselves, no matter what life throws at them.”
Megan also continued to work with community members and the school to assist in the making of music videos and photography.
Qualifications & Experience:
Private Subconscious Mind Therapist (P.S.H) I.C.S.T.R (QLD)
Energetic/Intuitive Healer (25 years)
Zen Mediation Training
More than Fourteen years working with Desert People.