A good news story

In Part 1 of this series we hear how art centres play a role in keeping older artists and Elders connected to their communities and Country, and communities connected to each other. Artists share how central Elders are to keeping culture alive and strong, and how art centres facilitate this.

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Video Transcript

Art Centres Keep Our Elders Connected: A Good News Story

Voiceover: There are about 90 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled art centres across Australia. Art centres are the hub of community life, they support artists, and the Elders are the foundation of the art centre. Art centres bring generations together, for everyone to learn from each other by sharing stories of culture, Country and kin, and keeping them alive for the future. Art centres are all different but they all do these things and this is a celebration of three of them.

Art Centres Keep Our Elders Connected: A Good News Story [Title]

Lisa Multa, Ikuntji Artists: [in Pintubi-Luritja] I paint the Kungka Yunti sand dune story, the dunes run through to Murintji and Tjurngkupa. This is the sand dune Country I’m painting. My grandfather’s Country.

Roseranna Larry, Ikuntji Artists: Art centre, they come here for, sit down to do their tjukurrpa, their Country dreaming. Mostly old ladies they come here, they do things to hold this Country’s songs, their Country’s songs, share the songs for the community.

Eunice Napanangka Jack, Ikuntji Artists: [in Luritja] My Dreaming, the one that I paint, is the Hare Wallaby Songline. It was running away and later was speared by an old man. I was the one speared because it is my Dreaming.

Roseranna Larry, Ikuntji Artist: I’m happy too, you know. It’s making me think back when I used to listen to my father’s aunties singing that’s why I’m really interested in with these old ladies in Haasts Bluff. It touches me you know, in Aboriginal songs. It’s our law, that’s why I am coming to the art centre. I like to sit around with the old ladies, Alice, Eunice, because they give me a smile, happy inside, and proud you know.

Tjanpi Desert Weavers singing: [in Pitjantjatjara] Raffia shimmers, raffia shimmers, grass shimmers, raffia shimmers, raffia shimmers, grass shimmers.

Michelle Young, Tjanpi Desert Weavers: Tjanpi Desert weavers is a social enterprise of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council. One of the beauties of Tjanpi is that it is actually a vehicle for allowing women the opportunity to go out into Country, to collect grass and to remain in Country and on community. Often we load up a Tjanpi troop carrier with lots of lovely ladies and we go out to harvest grass that's the core of the work that's produced, but it often means that there's opportunities for the women to go hunting for food or collecting bush medicines.

Margaret Smith, Tjanpi Desert Weavers: The bush is the best medicine, you know. Go and camp out, you feel so changed next time you know. That’s why, you know all them Tjanpi when they go out, they want to go out bush because it’s so lovely to be roaming the Country. I was looking at the old ladies doing Tjanpi work, just by looking at it I start doing it. Then I fell in love with it, so I kept doing it. All settle down very well, you know, ‘cause I was sort of grumpy and upset sometimes, but now I settle down like, it sort of brought peace to my life you know. Peace and harmony and changed my lifestyle around. 

Tjanpi Desert Weavers: [in Ngaanyatjarra] Young ones grow up and get taught by grandmothers.

Dorcas Bennett, Tjanpi Desert Weavers: [in Ngaanyatjarra] They will learn about our culture and be knowledgeable. I’ve made a skinny camel - I’m just learning.

Polly Jackson, Tjanpi Desert Weavers: [in Ngaanyatjarra] I didn’t know how to do Tjanpi and I have learnt from the old people who have passed away. I have learnt and I do Tjanpi.

Michelle Young, Tjanpi Desert Weavers: Older women are the superstars of Tjanpi. They're the ones that hold the cultural knowledge and Tjanpi work is often informed by that cultural knowledge that they are the keepers of, and so they're very valued members of the Tjanpi family, as they are in community as well.

Annette Lomada, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency: It’s good you know to come here and to be with the old people, we get stories too from the old people, we learn something from them old people. Like me I’m a bit young, I learn something from Sonia and Daisy. It’s important right, not only for us, but the younger ones coming behind. I mean it’s good for everybody you know to come in and, young to old to be together here.

Lynley Nargoodah, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency: I never, never saw this place as an art centre, I saw it as a library for Indigenous people. You walk in, you have fables, you have true stories, you have crime stories, you have beginning stories, love stories, romantic stories and the old people, you know, they’re the knowledge keepers and without art centres, a whole lot of stories will be lost.

Wyatt: Yes.

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