'Mwarre anthurre' Art works: Communities thrive. Enews special edition.

Issue 16 - Special Edition
1 October 2008


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CONTENTS


 

WELCOME ADDRESSES AND SESSION 1: WHAT IS SOCIAL COHESION?

Indigenous dancers

Welcome address - Professor Helen Garnett

Professor Helen GarnettWhile Indigenous art has become known throughout the world and grown into a multi-million dollar industry, Australia needs to consider more deeply the difference that the study of art can make in schools.

This was one of the key messages delivered by the Vice-Chancellor of Charles Darwin University, Professor Helen Garnett, as she opened the Charles Darwin Symposium in Alice Springs, entitled ‘Mwarre anthurre’ Art works: Communities thrive.

The Symposia series, a joint initiative of Charles Darwin University and the Northern Territory Government, is designed to initiate debate and discussion about issues of interest and concern to the Territory community.

Professor Garnett encouraged the gathering which included representatives from the arts community, policy makers, the cultural tourism industry and schools programs to use the Symposium to discover how the NT community might “do things better”.

“We hope that people will do things differently as a result of coming together (at the Symposium),” she said.

Professor Garnett said Indigenous art was the oldest art form in the world, ranging from rock art and ground pecking to body painting. She said that body painting used in ceremonies was no different from religious art in churches in other cultures.

Interest in Indigenous art was helping non-Indigenous Australians to develop an understanding of Indigenous culture, but there remained a good deal of room to further that understanding. She cited an increase of art in schools was one avenue.

“What else can we learn and achieve through art? How can we use art to foster cultural cohesion?” she said.

Professor Howard MorphyWhat is social cohesion?

Professor Howard Morphy spoke about the invaluable role of Indigenous art in building social cohesion.

He said social cohesion had two meanings. The first was the instance of people living together in the same geographical area. The second occurred where a group of people were linked by common interests and a sense of identity, even though they might not be physically connected. He said that in both instances, social cohesion was underpinned by members of the group accommodating diverse views.

He drew on the example of the Yolngu people in East Arnhem Land who have used art to mediate the impact of European colonisation since the 1930s.

Professor Howard Morphy is the Director, Research School of Humanities, and Head of the Centre for Cross Cultural Research, ANU.

What is the intersection between arts, education and policy?

Alison Anderson MLAIndigenous artists need to gain control over their destiny, Ms Alison Anderson told the Symposium.

She put the question to the gathering: What happens to art when it becomes an object of desire? Does the buyer see the "sacred nature of our act (in creating the art)?”

"The time has come for education. Australians buying Indigenous art need to be more aware of the need to keep lore and art intact," Ms Anderson said.

"Indigenous people need education to become cunning and resourceful."

She said Aboriginal people needed access to the best education in the country so they could operate and direct their own art business.

Alison Anderson MLA, is Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and Heritage, Parks and Wildlife, and Central Australia.

Listen to Welcome Addresses and Session 1 audio and video presentations >>

SESSION 2: EDUCATING FOR SOCIAL COHESION: WHAT WORKS AND WHY

Educating for social cohesion: What works and why?

Veronica Perrule Dobson Anja Tait and Leonie Murrungun Vincent Lamberti

Veronica Perrule Dobson (left), writer and educator, topic: Language and land management.

Anja Tait and Leonie Murrungun (centre), Numbulwar, CDU/DEET, topic: Art Stories: Partnerships for learning and well being.

Vincent Lamberti, musician (right), composer and filmmaker with Music NT, Tangentyere Council Incite Youth Arts and CAAMA, topic: Youth music.

The speakers addressed the positive art projects they are involved in within the Northern Territory.

Listen to Session 2 audio and video presentations >>

SESSION 3: CROSSING BOUNDARIES? HOW DO ARTS WORK IN CROSS CULTURAL EXCHANGE?

Crossing boundaries: How do the arts work in cross cultural exchange?

Wayne Buckley Diana Isgar Liesl Rockchild

Wayne Buckley (left), Regional Coordinator, Roper Gulf Shire Council, topic: The Barunga Festival.

Diana Isgar (centre), Papulankutja Artists, topic: Tourism.

Liesl Rockchild (right), Tangentyere Artists, topic: Art centres.

The group spoke of individual projects that bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Listen to Session 3 audio and video presentations >>

SESSION 4: WHAT IS THE INTERSECTION BETWEEN ARTS, EDUCATION AND POLICY?

Panel discussion

Josephine Douglas Tamara Winikoff Susan Bowden

Chair: Josephine Douglas (left), Indigenous Research Fellow, CDU; Tamara Winikoff (centre), CDO, National Association for the Visual Arts; Kathy Keele, CDO, Australia Council; Lyn Allen, Executive Director, NT Department of Natural Resources, Education and the Arts; Susan Bowden (right), Executive Director Central Australia, NT Department of Education and Training.

This panel discussed a broad range of issues including a code of conduct for Indigenous art, the role of art in breaking the cycle of disadvantage and exclusion of Aboriginal people, and the importance of the arts in sustaining Aboriginal culture.

Listen to Session 4 audio and video presentations >>

SESSION 5: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? FUTURE PERSPECTIVES

Panel discussion

Djambawa Marawili Harold Furber

Djambawa Marawili (left), Chair, Association of Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists

Apolline Kohen, Acting Director of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

Harold Furber (right), Board Member, Desert Knowledge CRC

This panel discussed a range of initiatives for the future including a national centre of Indigenous art and the cessation of the practice of funding projects for a short period of time, but ending funding before the project has had the opportunity to grow.

Listen to Session 5 audio and video presentations >>

SUMMATION

Professor Howard MorphyProfessor Morphy said Australia needed to recognise the outstanding contribution Indigenous art has made to Australian society. He said he expected this to grow as digital technologies were being embraced by Indigenous communities.

Professor Howard Morphy is the Director, Research School of Humanities, and Head of the Centre for Cross Cultural Research, ANU.

Listen to the Summation audio and video presentations >>