NAIDOC week is an important week for all Australians.
It’s a chance for everyone to celebrate and share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, to discover something new, whether through community events, art or performances.
MCA began the week with a stall at the Hyde Park with other cultural institutions and organisations, sharing information about NAIDOC events and school holiday programs. It was a jam-packed day of badge making, weaving and Aboriginal nail art. Back in the building, we ran daily film screenings of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander films and staff spoke on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks in our collection.
Midway through the week we held a booked out panel discussion on the 2016 NAIDOC theme Songlines: The Living Narrative of our Nation. Panellists Ghillar Michael Anderson, Robert Fuller, Mabel Juli and Professor Ray Norris highlighted the important living history of songlines to a captive audience practically spilling from the Lecture Theatre.
Keith Munro, panel host and curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs, said “It was one of our most well attended years yet. It opened up a space for critical thinking and a broader understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture”.
Listen to Keith with the panellists in the audio recording of the discussion below.
We were very fortunate to have respected artists Shirley Purdie, Mabel Juli and Phyllis Thomas, along with Warmun Art Centre Gallery Co-ordinator, Nicole Foreshew, and Shirley’s daughter Blandina, joining us all the way from Warmun, WA. Each of the artists presented a talk on their artworks in Telling Tales to an attentive crowd on Saturday.
Phyllis performed a song in language in front of her artwork Gemerre and Purnululu (2015-16), Shirley shared her in depth knowledge of some of the Gija plants in her incredible artwork Goowoolem Gijam – Gija plants (2013-16) and Mabel Juli closed the afternoon with her unique flair for storytelling, sharing the Gija lore behind her artwork Garnkiny doo Wardal (2016).
It was a privilege and a delight to have the ladies visiting and giving insight on their artworks. Their talent, knowledge and sense of humour continues to inspire us at MCA beyond the weeklong celebrations of NAIDOC, reminding us to listen to elders and seek out stories every week, not just during NAIDOC.
Susie Anderson joined the digital team at MCA in 2014, where she creates digital experiences on the web, mobile and in the gallery. A range of experience at arts and creative organisations led her to this point: Etsy Australia, RMIT University, Regional Arts Victoria and Voiceworks Magazine.
Off the clock she writes and performs her own poetry, and makes work with the arts collective sociocreative trust, who have performed at festivals and events across New South Wales and Victoria.