The Artist Educator team has been working closely with Keith Munro, MCA Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs and Nadeena Dixon, Lead Artist Educator, Indigenous Programs, to develop our learning programs focused on contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art practice, Ngamili, Gimabili (To see, to make) and Winangali (To hear, to know). Our recent training sessions led by Keith and Nadeena have been incredibly inspiring and enriching, involving weaving, singing, dancing.
Nadeena welcomes us, Warrame!
We begin at Brook Andrew’s Warrang and we speak in Gadigal language.
Naa, to see, Narra, listening/ to think
Garragarang Sea country
Country is talking to us
Earth is our mother, a living being
We have to care for our mother
Life is connected to water
We follow hand gestures while speaking these words, grounded in sea country.
We then begin our journey across country, looking and listening as we venture up the stairs to Daniel Boyd’s commission for the MCA foyer wall.
Warrawal, stars (Darrug language)
We cover seasons, the ancestory of how the stars came to be, and look at the artwork as a kind of star map.
This map is vital for survival, it tells us when the flowers bloom we can go fishing.
We learn the gesture for stars, and dance our way as stars through country up to Level 2 to Manjabu, by Anchor Kalunba 1985 -1987.
We share stories of fishing, Nadeena tells of prawning on a full moon at midnight as a little girl.
We imagine what the trap could catch. Eels, yabbies, fish.
We gather in groups and enact a night out fishing. Some in the canoe rowing out, some with rods, some cut wood and create a fire, some catch pippis, and others enact the fish, swimming around the group.
Keith takes us to the bark paintings, and we look closely at the works from West Arnhem Land in the Bining Calendar. We look carefully, and spend time studying a work closely in groups. We identify the codes, and gather information on the season in which it may be referencing. An abundance of grasses and plants fruiting suggests Banggereng Harvest time.
Nadeena sits us back as a group to make our own Mugara – we choose from mullet, snapper and flathead and weave with yarn, raffia and wire the shape and patterns while sharing stories.
We end our journey with song and dance, and as a group are singing for days on end Taba Naba, (a traditional children’s song from the Torres Strait)with the help of Christine Anu and the Wiggles….. the hand actions catch on, and most of all, STYLE!
Ella Condon is an Artist Educator at the MCA Australia. She holds a Master of Fine Art research degree from Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney and Parsons The New School for Design, New York.
Her practice engages with expanded and experimental forms from photography, video and installation.
Ella’s work has been screened on the Manhattan Bridge, at the Australian Centre for Photography, and at Underbelly Arts Festival, Cockatoo Island.