Arnhembrand

Arnhembrand

A Successful Second Trip

Following our successful 'reccie' in March to Maningrida to present community members in the Djlek IPA with a project proposal developed from their concerns about Living on Healthy, we returned with a larger Arnhembrand team to Maningrida in the Djelk IPA and then Kabulwarnamyo in the Warddeken IPA from 11-15 May. Both communities endorsed our proposal and started drawings, digital and oral recordings and signed participation consent forms.

Ranger and artist Greg Wilson making a start on a fluoro masterpiece (photo by Hugo Sharp).

Maningrida, Djelk IPA

Djelk Ranger Dave (photo by Hugo Sharp).

After a meeting with Maningrida Arts and Culture, Wiwa Project and Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation to organise the logistics and a programme for the week, everyone scattered around the community to discuss their individual programmes. Guy headed off to talk with the Rangers and they hunted a buffalo, destined for the crocodile trap down near the wharf, where the kids swim! Alexander and Laura Boynes met with Natalie Carey at Wiwa, David, Fran and I collected the art materials and canvases freighted out by barge from Darwin which were stored at Babbarra designs within the Women's Centre. We organised a working programme with the women for the week. We left Henry Skerritt and Bill Fox to familiarise themselves with the art and artists represented by MAC. They were delighted to immediately meet and interview John Marwundjul. Another highlight for them during the week was witnessing the smoking ceremony for the completion of an enormous hollow log Johnny Bulunbulun had been painting at the time of his death in 2010 and which his widow Laurie Maburru had continued to completion. Henry recorded a number of oral histories from the senior MAC artists and also the Arnhembrand artists during the week, which explicate the works being made for the Arnhmebrand project. Bill was tasked with placing Arnhembrand within an international Brand context and also in the stream of multidisciplinary art and environment projects on an international scale. He thought and researched widely during the week.

Daniel Bonson Yams and dragonflies.

Jennifer Wurrkidj Goanna, Sea Turtle and Barramundi.

Digital still from Alexander Boynes' video work. 

Ivan Namarnyilk Feral Pigs rubbing on rock art.

David Leece The flood plain from Djinkarr.

Mandy Martin Djinkarr sketch.

Jennifer Wurrkidj Barramundi and food seeds.

After buying our food we headed out to set up the “Lab”, the science workshop at Djinkarr, for the painting workshops that week. David and I painted fluoro grounds on 30 canvases in preparation and shortly after, the first artists, Djelk Rangers, Ivan Namarnyilk and Greg Wilson arrived to work on large squares of heavy black paper, while David and I grabbed a few moments to work also.

   
  
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    Fran Murrell and Leila Nimbadja (photo by Mandy Martin).

Fran Murrell and Leila Nimbadja (photo by Mandy Martin).

Later after a magnificent sunset, Leila Nimbadja, Djinkarr Traditional Owner, joined us for dinner and agreed to work with Fran Murrell and the women from Babbarra Designs on a project about food. They all collected and used local seed to apply to small partially painted canvases. Leila has expert knowledge on plants, birds and bush foods and medicine and runs a plant nursery in Maningrida.

The following days were a busy continuum of the Rangers, the women from Babbarra designs and Daniel Bonson from MAC, painting well understood and passionately explained environmentally themed works about ghost nets and plastic in the ocean, through to the first fluoro rarrk feral cat and kitten ever painted!

Alexander and Laura worked with performers at Wiwa, and were really excited to record a Creation story with the Pascoe family. It was a good chance for Laura to observe and do some preparatory dance moves with possible Arnhembrand new wave performers. Alexander and Laura continued work after dark, collecting support material for the digital work, the filming of a cane toad causing great hilarity. It was of course captured by Hugo as usual who was everywhere the whole week photographing and filming everything and at all times.

Hugo Sharp feeling the heat (photo by Mandy Martin).

Djelk power rangers wearing Arnhembrand bandanas (photo by Mandy martin).

 Djelk Ranger Darryl (photo by Guy Fitzhardinge).

As the season had dried out quickly, access to remote outstations is now possible and Guy went out with the Djelk Rangers to visit a few and drop off buffalo and crocodile, hunted and butchered along the way, to people who are otherwise totally isolated and without services during the wet. It is burning season and fires were started everywhere in both IPA’s while we were there. Guy walked 5 kms with a fire dripper one day starting fires, David Leece had an exciting time photographing when the fire suddenly flared up near him. 

Back-burning (photo by Guy Fitzhardinge).

Head of the Djelk Rangers, Dominic Nicholls (photo by Guy Fitzhardinge).

Kabulwarnmyo, Warddeken IPA

Scenic lunch spot (photo by David Leece).

We spent our final day at Kabulwarnmyo, spell bound as we made the short and bumpy hop by light plane from Maningrida, over the rugged, remote and beautiful stone country. Elder, Keith Nadjamerrrek, met us at the airstrip and in a freshly washed troopie, delivered us the short drive to the community for further welcomes to Country and a briefing by Georgia Valance and Jake Weigl, who had organised a full and amazing day. Keith led us to the grave of his father, Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek “Wamud Namok” and as his widow Mary watched over us from her tent house nearby, we paid our respects to this great man who started the Kabulwarnmyo outstation and instigated so many other important initiatives in Arnhem Land. We then all walked to the nearby spring where Mary and family introduced the new visitors to the spirits of old people and wet their heads in the spring.

After a brief introduction about Arnhembrand and once again gaining approval to proceed with the project as described in earlier discussions, I quickly set up a painting camp under the trees nearby the spring and was delighted that 4 generations of Lofty’s family were painting with us including his widow Mary, 2 sons, 2 daughters and 2 grandchildren including baby Victor and 3 year old Richard!

(photo by Alexander Boynes)

(photo by Alexander Boynes)

(photo by Alexander Boynes)

After lunch back at main camp and a quick inspection of the Karrkad Kanjdji Trust School project and the other new camp structures which had been surveyed and redesigned by David Leece, (now  unglamorously but fondly known as “Dunny Dave”), Keith drove us in the troopie out to see the last work painted on rock by Lofty. Historian, Henry Skerritt was beside himself with excitement, having met and written about Lofty several times.

Lofty's final rock painting (photo by David Leece).

Near this site was a mossy, fern trimmed “cold” cave, which is named for the breath of the Rainbow Serpent and is also very important for a small pond dwelling invertebrate only found in that special site.

We continued on to a more expansive rock art site where once again I set up to paint on large sheets of heavy black paper, with Gavin, Ray and 2 year old Patrick Nadjamerrek. The rest of the group after a long ramble through the rock art sites with Keith, drove out to the Mann River which is a beautiful swimming place with Pandanas Palms and clear flowing water.

Gavin Namarnyilk Wildfire and Rock Art.

Mary Najamerrek Sugar Bag Spirits.

The day ended far too soon but with a clear invitation to return and work for longer with the community next time.  As promised, Jake Weigl, as part of the Warddeken fire abatement programme, had set fire to the Country from Kabulwarnmyo to Jabiru that day by dropping incendiaries from the helicopter thus blocking our view totally with smoke on the return flight to Darwin. The aerial tour companies would have been complaining that he had ruined their “scenics” again but at least, because it was a week day, he hadn’t caused the cancellation of the cricket match in Jabiru because of poor light as had happened previously!

Many thanks to all who helped make this second trip possible.

The team enjoying an Arnhem sunset. (photo by Hugo Sharp).

Arnhembrand, Art + Environment

Arnhembrand Update 1

 

Arnhembrand: Living on Healthy Country is a new art, science and story project which Mandy Martin and David Leece scoped at the invitation of the community with the Djelk Rangers in Maningrida, Arnhem Land, in March 2015.

 Photo by David Leece

Photo by David Leece

We firstly thanked the Traditional Owners for permission to visit Country and acknowledged the elders past and present. We then presented some models of how Arnhembrand would work with community participation on art and stories about environmental preservation. This would raise awareness both nationally and internationally of the work the Indigenous communities living in the Djelk and Warddeken Indigenous Protected Areas in Arnhem Land undertake to preserve their culture and environment. The Arnhembrand project is designed to support the Karrkad-Kanjdji Trust which is working in the long term to achieve these preservation objectives. Arnhembrand aims to create a multi-disciplined and participatory project following the successful model of the Paruku Project. We presented examples of possible outputs including a book, a DVD, a website, blogs, an archive and exhibitions. We were then invited to meet with artists and artist/rangers at the The Wíwa Project which is hosting Arnhembrand in Maningrida. We presented our ideas in more depth and showed examples of ideas and techniques for drawing, painting and digital art that we could experiment with to foster a new wave of contemporary art which builds on each individual artist's distinct style while extending their traditional practice. The new wave art and new media created will assist in raising awareness of the environmental issues the Djelk and Warrdeken communities deal with.


Drawing workshop with The Wíwa Project 


Digital Art with The Wíwa Project 

Natalie Carey, Coordinator of Wiwa Media Unit, Mathias Cameron, Wiwa artist, Alexander Boynes, artist, Sirus Rostron, Wiwa artist, Hugo Sharp photographer/ Videographer. Photo Mandy Martin

"Dreaming Story" by Alexander Boynes


Drawing with Babbarra Designs

Arnhembrand also worked with Babbarra Designs who work out of The Women’s Centre and the women experimented with making new wave drawings about feral animals and weeds in their community. The chance to experiment will inspire new designs and approaches to making art while contributing to the environmental goals of the Djelk Rangers and the community.


Kabulwarnymyo

Arnhembrand has also been invited to work with a fourth group of artists at Kabulwarnymyo, in May 2015. We will offer some exploratory drawing with new media and digital media to the descendants of the famous artist, Lofty Bardayal Nadjamerrek “Wamud Namok” who lived and worked at Kabulwarnymyo . Arnhembrand aims to provide opportunities for Wamud Namok’s descendants to build on his legacy and further develop their own art and income opportunities.

Photo by Hugo Sharp

Arnhembrand: Living on Healthy Country will inject energy through experimentation with new wave art and media and produce new material for performance and exhibition which take as their content living on healthy Country. This will also contribute to the Djelk and Warrdeken archives of stories and recordings and will generate income through external exhibition and media opportunities.