Mowanjum Micro Macro Country


Recent enthusiastic reports from artists and staff at Mowanjum Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre indicate that the recent Dolord Mindi photography and print workshop was a great success.

Dolord Mindi is the Mowanjum Community Collection and Media Space, it aims to preserve and collect archival records in tandem with training staff and artists to create new digital media stories. As well as driving new creative projects the space allows the community to explore and deepen cultural knowledge via digital media platforms, to engage with an evolving collection of photographs, videos, sound, documents and object information via the community controlled database Storylines. In terms of a way of delivering an interactive platform that supports the maintenance of culture, language and law, as well as intergenerational teaching, Dolord Mindi is a standout in the Kimberley and the beating heart of the art centre.  

In late 2016 Dolord Mindi ran a four-week program with Mowanjum artists called ‘Micro Macro Country’ and invited four external artists to guide and join the creative journey; Jacqueline Warrick and Sarah Landro  from Camera Story, Sean Smith from The Ownership Project, and Peter Hatzipavlis from The Print Shop, Photography Studies College. The program, eagerly embraced by new, early and mid-career artists, was designed to experiment with combining digital media and handmade methods of making. Artists explored digital photography, screen-printing and digital printing while studying the theme of identity through country by closely examining objects in their immediate environment. Old photographs and material from the Mowanjum Collection were accessed by artists to incorporate into the screen-print designs.

In Sherika Nulgit’s work Junba on Country the patterns inside the dancing figure were developed from a detail drawing of a freshwater turtle shell. Sherika used photos from the Community Collection taken during a Junba performance at Mount Hart which inspired her to reflect:

"I am a fresh water woman my country is inland and this picture is about us going back on country teaching our culture to the next generation… The freshwater longneck turtle is a significant totem animal; inside the body can be found a Wandjina shaped bone. Young boys are not allowed to play with freshwater turtles until they have grown facial hair."

Cecila Umbagai’s work Dumbi was inspired by a recent trip to a cave site during another Dolord Mindi project. Here a collaboration of Traditional Land Owners, UWA archaeologists and virtual reality specialists worked to create a high quality virtual scan of the rock art site intended for display in the Rock Art Educational space currently under development in the Mowanjum museum.  

A surprise new talent to emerge from this project is Mowanjum staff member Maitland Ngerdu. Better known around the art centre for his savant-like knowledge of the Storylines database rather than art making, Maitland’s talent for image recall and intimate knowledge of the database collection made him a perfect candidate to explore the Micro Macro concept. Of the artwork My Grandfather Maitland explains:

"This is a dedication to my grandfather Wattie Ngerdu who was a great Worrorra leader and composer of Junba. The screenprint combines photos of my Grandfather from the Mowanjum Community Collection and a drawing of a saltwater crocodile skin."

The full online gallery of all the Micro Macro Country screen prints is available on the Mowanjum Aboriginal Art and Culture website here.

Information courtesy of Mowanjum Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre

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