In 2007 A Current Affair called him ‘an iconic image maker.’ His panoramic art has won world-wide acclaim. His range of panographs are stunning. Ken Duncan is a leader in photographic expression.
Those who know and appreciate the beauty of his spectacular photography will not be surprised at the words of Romans chapter 1, verse 20: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
In the light of that verse, Ken Duncan chooses to refer to himself as ‘an average photographer with a great God.’ Duncan calls himself ‘merely an interpreter of God’s creation.’ A browse of his work confirms he has found a large variety of stunning scenes. His international book projects include Malaysia, China, Abu Dhabi and Hollywood.
He has presented Australian locations as a kaleidoscope of great beauty and design. For many years he was the photographer of choice for Aussie rock legends Midnight Oil. Mel Gibson chose Ken Duncan as the official photographer for the epic movie ‘The Passion of the Christ.’
His own story was profoundly touched fifteen years ago when he observed his first aboriginal sing-a-long held at Kintore (Walungurru) Northern Territory. Sing-a-long is at the cultural heart of the locals. “Singing is a lifestyle for people at Kintore because sing along started in 1984, when they started to move in from Papunya and people used to sing under the tree. It's still continuing, and we're teaching the children to follow the steps of their parents and grandparents,” Monica Robinson, Kintore community leader and elder told ABC Rural. (abc.net.au)
Ken Duncan recalls the indigenous communities gathered together singing their own songs about Jesus. He recalls the impact on his own life at his first sing-a-long.
Out of his deep respect for indigenous people and their unique culture Ken and his wife Pam initiated the Walk a While Foundation. “To really get to know a person, you need to walk a while with them,” is the principle they encourage.
“Many indigenous people are geographically and technologically isolated – they are in remote locations and they lack the necessary skills to become self-sufficient. The primary goal of Walk a While is to work with the youth in these communities - to encourage them in the creative arts and to equip them with the tools and skills they need to tell their stories into the future”. (kenduncan.com)
On three different occasions indigenous individuals had visions of a cross, raised on top of Memory Mountain. Alison Multa, a Haasts Bluff traditional owner and community leader explained, “God gave a vision to kids and old people and they saw stairs and God was talking to them.”
Separately individuals shared their experiences with Ken. When he agreed to help with their plan, Ken envisioned a simple structure, but it was later determined that the cross would need to be 20 metres high to be in scale with the mountain. They pictured a location where they would enjoy their own Prayer Mountain and come together for sing-a-long. They chose Memory Mountain a location near the indigenous community of Haasts Bluff (Ikuntji) 230 kilometres west of Alice Springs.
Ken enthused about the employment opportunities and the regular jobs for what will become a very unique tourist attraction. “Tourism is one of the main areas we are focusing on,’ he said. “Young people from the community can be trained up to work as tourist guides for art and cultural tours.”
“We will also be providing training in the creative arts, including photography, cinematography, music and design,’ he beamed.
Ken recalled a sing-a-long when Steve Grace, Hillsong and Brisbane City Church joined the indigenous communities. He envisioned the day when the same communities will welcome visitors to Prayer Mountain and the indigenous-led sing-a-long.
Ken Duncan is already described as outstanding in his own genre but his most effective, eternal contribution may yet to be.
On the website walkawhile.org.au there is confidence summed up with these words: “The indigenous leaders believe that when the cross is raised up in the heart of Australia it will draw people from far and wide. It will be like a stake in the heart of our nation, claiming it for Jesus and proclaiming His name over our land. The cross reflects the profound vision and a deeply committed Christian faith that informs the culture, artwork and hearts desire of the people of Ikuntji.”
And Ken told me, “It’s all about Jesus!” He firmly believes that!
Already $500,000 has been raised. Another half a million dollars is needed. The community elders are very keen. "I think the community is happy the decision was made and as soon as the cross can be put up and the light goes up then everybody will be jumping up and down with joy. It will benefit the community to not rely upon government money ... self-determination for people at Haasts Bluff,” said the former president of the MacDonnell Regional Council Sid Anderson. ( abc.net.au)
Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.
His career started at WINTV (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ron Ross' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html