Thomson times and ten canoes (De Heer and Djigirr, 2006)

Louise Hamby*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Ten Canoes (de Heer and Djigirr, 2006) is a collaboration between Rolf de Heer and members of the Ramingining community in eastern Arnhem Land. The film ostensibly has two time frames: a ‘mythical past’ which could be called ‘the Dreaming’ and the historical time in which the protagonist, Dayindi, lives, which is given as ‘1000 years ago’ (Vertigo 2006: 3). The development of Ten Canoes drew upon the writings of Donald Thomson and his collection of over 2500 ethnographic photographs, 1500 natural history photographs and 5500 objects from Arnhem Land, now held at Museum Victoria in Melbourne. One fourth of the material culture items consist of objects worn on the body, which I have termed ‘bodywear’ (Hamby 2006). In tracing community use of, and responses to, the Thomson Collection, I argue that members of the Ramingining community understand one strand of the Ten Canoes plot, Dayindi’s story, to take place in the time of those relatives who had met and worked with Thomson: in both their production and reception of Dayindi’s story, it takes place not 1000 years ago but in ‘Thomson Times’.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)127-146
    Number of pages20
    JournalStudies in Australasian Cinema
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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