It’s been a fascinating experience working to come up with the cover for the third novel. I sent Ross MacLennan a sketch of themes from the novel as a montage. I loved his first effort, and his advice that I had too many themes cluttering the cover. He selected four themes which I think blend well and part of is a photo of Aboriginal children at play which he found on a website belonging to a person involved on movie-making. It is a joyously uplifting photo but we felt there were several problems in using it. One was being able to get permission from the photographer, who wasn’t the owner of the website, a second was that the last entry on the website was in 2009, and a third was to find out the community where it was taken and seek their permission too. Talk about detective work!!!
Anyway, after several abortive attempts to find the website owner, I decided instead to try to identify the photographer. After several searches I eventually came up with the name Brett Monaghan. That led me to Facebook and Linked In and a couple days of contacting various people under that name. I’d just about given up when I got an email from Brett saying “yes, I’m the photographer, get in touch and we can talk.” I rang him, explained what I wanted to do, and while he is no longer in the photography business, he still owns the rights to that photo. He said he happy for me to use it, but we agreed that we should contact the community where the photo was taken – Ernabella, which is in the Pitjantjatjara Lands, a couple of hundred kilometres south of the NT/South Australian Border. I’ve been there working but not since 2004. Brett, bless his heart, was willing to make contact if I sent him a copy of the draft cover, which I did.
Getting to that point took the best part of four days work and we still have no answer from Ernabella. On the one hand, it’s very frustrating trying to follow the legal and ethical requirements of different cultures. On the other hand, however, it has put me in touch with some lovely people whose comprehension of the legal and ethical dimensions across cultures is warming. And I know if I fail in this effort, Stephen DuPont, a photographer whom I met in Mildura, is willing to assist, too.