Tasmanian filmmaker and Pakana community member Takani Clark is creating an online portfolio which showcases the strength, femininity & power that radiates from Tasmania’s Palawa/Pakana community.

Ms Clark is just one collaborator within the ‘Women of the Island’ project and her passion for storytelling through film has led her to push Aboriginal stories onto the platform to share and inspire others. Her documentary focuses on Lola Greeno and the ancient tradition of shell stringing for necklaces.

“Lola stands in freezing cold water to pick live shells off the seagrass. I followed her journey and the passing down of [this] tradition to her granddaughters.”

“We spent four days in total on Flinders Island. It was my first time there. Being surrounded by Lola and her granddaughters gave me a space to heal and connect to culture,” Ms Clark said.

A day prior to filming Lola asked Ms Clark to join her on a visit to Wybalenna, an old Aboriginal settlement on Flinders Island.

“Once you step foot on that country it becomes obvious that something bad happened there, you instantly feel the heaviness. I’m glad I got to share that moment with Lola.”

Wybalenna was a place of exile—where people were sent after being forcibly removed from their traditional country on mainland Tasmania.

“You become very aware of what the old people would have endured on this landscape. Even when we were on Flinders the wind was extremely strong and cold. Imagine our old people having to relocate there, what they would have dealt with.”

Ms Clark said she has learned to welcome and embrace the wisdom of her elders.

“I’ve been able to observe the way the elders respond, with wisdom and patience … You don’t choose to be political as an Aboriginal person, you are born into this life. You have to pass on knowledge, you have to connect to country, or else you aren’t complete.”

Creating ‘Women of the Island’ with Lola has allowed Ms Clark to become more aware of the role of Aboriginal women in community and culture.

“Women are the glue of our culture … the protectors and defenders of Aboriginal culture. The fact that this tradition has survived through colonisation—when they couldn’t speak their own tongue—they still carried on these ancient traditions.”

Ms Clark is determined to continue to promote stories of Aboriginal success.

She dreams that one day she’ll live to see an Aboriginal drama on mainstream television that creates as much hype as Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey.

“I want to see Aboriginal women fully step into their potential on screen, in the theatre, in music. We are sick of seeing stories of the past, of our people getting oppressed and colonised. We want to see the beauty and the strength within culture.”

“I want people to truly be invested in the most ancient culture in the world because I believe it deserves that. I want pride, I want people to see how far we have come …”

Ms Clark’s documentary on Lola Greeno and others can be accessed here: https://www.womenoftheisland.com/

By Rachael Knowles