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Remembering the future

Warlpiri Drawings: Remembering the Future

Warning: This website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Remembering the future

Continuity and change

A group of people participating in an drawing workshop.
Drawing workshop, Warlukurlangu Artists Association, Yuendumu, 2011. Photo: Vanessa Bertagnole.

In 2011 researchers Melinda Hinkson and Stephen Wild took prints of the Meggitt Collection drawings made at Hooker Creek in the 1950s to show to a new generation of Warlpiri people at Yuendumu and Lajamanu.

Greeting them with surprise, some old women embraced the drawings as traces of deceased loved ones: 'Wiyarrpa (Dear one, dearly missed)!'

'That’s gone now', observed many old people of the world revealed in the Hooker Creek drawings. They were deeply moved by the pictures and the memories they triggered. According to Tommy Jangala Watson, when the people at Hooker Creek made the drawings, 'they were thinking of us, they were thinking of the future'.

Seeing the drawings sparked a round of new drawing activity. The drawings on display in this section – a selection from more than 200 made by men and women of all ages between 2011 and 2013 – reflect upon the many changes that have occurred in the lives of Warlpiri since Europeans first entered their country.

They depict continuities as well as profound changes in the ways Warlpiri see their place in the world. Some drawings reveal that remembering times past has also involved reflecting on fears and hopes for the future.

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