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Icon - Mallee Root, Women on Farms Gathering, Swan Hill, 1995 Object Reg. No: HT 1419

Icon created for and displayed at the Women on Farms Gathering, Swan Hill 1995

The mallee root was one of three icons selected for the Swan Hill Gathering. The mallee root is tough, resilient, drought resistant and beautiful - 'like us Murray Mallee women'. The other two accompanying icons include a cap and a stone. These icons were chosen as symbols of the ability of rural women to come together, survive and grow after periods of great hardship. Whether it is fire, interest rates, crashing markets, or the death or injury of a family member, it is often the women that pull out the extra energy to bind the wounds of soul, soil and family. The "Grumpy" cap indicates the 'forming, storming, norming then performing' process of creating a Gathering. The stone directly references the "stone soup" story and symbolises the nutrition and strength which pulls women together.

Many women attend Gatherings to replenish and renew themselves so that they can continue to support their families and farms.

'The Mallee Root sawn in half is tough, resilient, drought resistant and able to spring forth with new growth when times are good. Knobbly and gnarled on the outside, but on the inside incredibly beautiful - "like us Murray Mallee Women". The Stone was used to make a broth that pulled us together to begin work as a team, as a committee.We all contributed something for the soup and prepared it together - a nutritious fun event that made far more than a pot of soup. The story 'Stone Soup Revisited' was read during the gathering.' Yvonne Jennings, member of the Swan Hill Gathering Organising Committee.

The closing of each Gathering and the anticipation of the next is celebrated with a formal 'baton changing' ritual, where a symbolic 'icon' is handed over from one organising committee to the next. Each item represents a story or message of some of the key themes and issues, which have shaped the meaning and experience of these women's rural identity.
Acquisition Information:
Loan & Subsequent Donation from Victorian Women on Farms Gathering, 2002
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 155 mm (Height), 180 mm (Width), 210 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: agriculture, gender issues, globalisation, politics, rural life, timber wood, work
Themes this item is part of: Sustainable Futures Collection, Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Collection, 1995 Swan Hill WoFG, 1995 Swan Hill - 'As Many We Are One', 1995 Swan Hill - 'I Was Thinking Over Old Times'
Primary Classification: AGRICULTURE & RURAL LIFE
Secondary Classification: Community Activity - Women on Farms Gathering
Tertiary Classification: symbolic objects
Commissioned By: Victorian Women on Farms Gathering, Swan Hill, Mallee, Victoria, Australia, 1995
Commissioned By: Yvonne Jennings - Swan Hill Women on Farms Gathering Organising Committee, Swan Hill, Mallee, Victoria, Australia, 1995
References:, viewed 12.05.2008 LDH, viewed 12.05.2008 LDH
  1. [Chapter] Dale-Hallett, Liza, et al. "Rural women reclaiming their place through symbols, stories and rituals"., 2008
  2. [Article] Dale-Hallett, Liza & Diffey, Rhonda. 2006. "Motherboards and desert sands: stories of Australian rural women" Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies., 2006
  3. [Article] Dale-Hallett, Liza, et al. 2006. "Creating collaborative living history; the case of the Victorian Women on Farms Gathering Heritage Collection", History Australia., 2006

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