Mirrityana is a Paakintji word for “out in the sunlight”, chosen as the species name for a dragon lizard new to science, Ctenophorus mirrityana. Following leads from our assigned scientist Marc Irvin, we explored its story – the long and complex process of scientific validation by Claire McLean et al, those intricate measurements of toes and jaws and forearms, the genetic profiling, the stunning photography identifying its distinct scale patterning. We researched its habitat and the threat it faces from invasive goats. With the survey team, we went into the field, seeking out  Mirrityana along predefined transects, logging their numbers and features, photographing them where we could. 

Today Paakintji people care for Mirrityana country in a joint management scheme with the National Parks & Wildlife Service at Mutawintji. Thousands of years of artworks that accumulate on the rocks here are testimony to the long connection of Aboriginal people and the myriad species they have shared this country with. Lizards appear often in the petroglyphs and paintings.

For every disappearance of a species or ecological community, we see a concomitant loss of human languages and cultures – the stories, the petroglyphs, the songs and ceremonies that for millenia enlarged our connection to all the rest of nature. Ecological art can be a rescue attempt, a salvage of species by poetics, and vice versa, reminding us of what we stand to lose if we fail.

The Art of Threatened Species Mirrityana has been a wonderful process, full of extraordinarily dedicated people brought together by this tiny, exquisite reptile. We admire the science and scientists. We honour the Traditonal Elders, past present and future, on whose land we have worked.

mirrityana – out in the sunlight

Part A             DragonGoatMulga

 mulga tree, soundtrack , wild goat horns, ( materials and sounds from the Barrier Ranges with permission of Baakintji Traditional Owners), old sawhorses

Part B            Darwin’s Tree (phylogenetic tree)

recycled metal, solid rivets, wild goat horns, soundtrack, ochre, ( materials and sounds from the Barrier Ranges with permission of Baakintji Traditional Owners)

Part C 

Darwin’s Tree 

Giclee print of Charles Darwin’s diagram, of the phylogenetic tree from my Grandfather’s 1910 edition of The Origin of Species

Giclee  print on Hannemuhle paper

Alison Clouston and Claire McLean

decresii and relatives 

Scientific study photographs by Claire, ochre (from the Barrier Ranges with permission of Baakintji Traditional Owners), pigmented ink, Giclee  print on Hannemuhle paper

mirrityana and relatives

Scientific study photographs by Claire, ochre (from the Barrier Ranges with permission of Baakintji Traditional Owners), pigmented ink, Giclee  print on Hannemuhle paper

Mulga 1 Mulga 2

Digital scan of sheepskin parchment, ochre (from the Barrier Ranges with permission of Baakintji Traditional Owners), pigmented ink, Giclee  print on Hannemuhle paper

Mulga 2

Digital scan of sheepskin parchment, ochre (from the Barrier Ranges with permission of Baakintji Traditional Owners), pigmented ink, Giclee  print on Hannemuhle paper

Year made 2019  Medium as above

works