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Warakurna exhibition opens in Katherine

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Warakurna exhibition opens in Katherine

17 Sep 2014

An acrylic painting on canvas showing two people flying in a helicopter, against a red background.
Helicopter Ride with Brooksy to See My Father's Ngurra (Country), 2011, Ken Shepherd, acrylic on canvas, 1020 x 1013 x 33 mm. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Wayne and Vicki McGeoch.

By Peter Thorley

Warakurna: All the Stories Got into our Minds and Eyes is an exhibition of contemporary paintings and sculptures that document a new art movement emerging from Warakurna. This remote community is on the Great Central Road in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands of Western Australia, approximately 330km from Uluru near the border with the Northern Territory.

The Warakurna Art Centre, where the art is made, is fully owned and governed by Aboriginal people and provides services to artists living in and visiting Warakurna and the nearby community of Wanarn.

The Warakurna exhibition was on show at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra from  December 2012 to November 2013 and had its first regional opening at Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre in Katherine, Northern Territory, on 27 June 2014.

The Governor-General, the Hon. Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Cosgrove were special guests at the exhibition, which was officially opened by Director of the Arts and Culture Centre, Cath Bowdler.

Assisted by the Australia Council, the Australian Government's arts funding and advisory body, the exhibition will also be travelling to venues in South Australia and Western Australia, giving people in rural and remote areas a rare opportunity to view these important artworks.

The 'history paintings', as they are termed, show travels and ceremony, bush camps and life at the Warburton mission. These modern day stories, as remembered by people from the community, contrast to paintings which represent Tjukurpa (or Dreaming) stories.

Passing on these important stories to young people is considered vital to keeping culture alive and strong.


A woman examines a brightly coloured painting on a wall.
Barbara Ambjerg Pederson, executive officer of Mimi Arts in Katherine examines the painting 'Keeping Culture Strong', a collaborative work by Warakurna artists Eunice Yunurupa Porter, Molly Malungka Yates, Judith Yinyika Chambers, Anna Porter, Maisie Nungurrayi Ward and Polly Pawuya Butler-Jackson. Photo: Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre.
A woman addresses a small group of people.
Arts centre Director Cath Bowdler addresses invited guests at the exhibition opening. Photo: Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre.
A family examines a number of artworks on a wall.
Guests taking in the Warakurna exhibition. Photo: Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre.
A group of people entering a building.
Australia’s Governor-General, the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove arrives at the Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre for the Warakurna exhibition opening in Katherine. Photo: Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre.
Two men and two women standing in an art gallery.
Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre Director Cath Bowdler (far right) with Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, Lady Cosgrove and a member of the Governor-General’s staff. Photo: Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre.

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