Documenting ancestral narratives in the artistic practices of north-central Arnhem Land

Four women sitting in front of tapestry

This project aims to document the multilingual ancestral stories behind traditional and emerging artistic practices in the Maningrida region of north-central Arnhem Land. In Arnhem Land, painting, weaving and sculpture are “an integral part of the aesthetics of everyday life, yet are also closely connected with the sacred” (Morphy 2005: ix). This project focuses on local artists from several language groups producing bark paintings, carvings and sculptures, weavings and fabric prints.

In collaboration with Bábbarra Women’s Centre and Maningrida Arts and Culture, high-quality audio-visual recordings will be made of these artists telling the ancestral stories represented in their artworks, and describing their artistic practices. These recordings are in several languages of this multilingual region (especially Kuninjku, Burarra, Ndjébbana and Gurr-goni), some of which are highly endangered. These will be transcribed and translated to produce subtitled videos for public use and community / online archival depositing. Mentoring of new community language workers is at the centre of this project.

Chief Investigator: Dr Jill Vaughan

Project details

Chief Investigator

Dr Jill Vaughan, University of Melbourne