Both Melbourne and Sydney are seeing major efforts to assist the community art centre at Warmun (Turkey Creek) in the East Kimberley recover from devastating floods that it suffered earlier this year – as reported on this site on 4th May – THE GOOD AND THE BAD IN THE KIMBERLEY
Water not only knocked over many homes in the community but attacked the art centre and its on-site archive of historical works by artists such as the late Hector Jandany, Queenie McKenzie and Rover Thomas. Many of the 730 missing canvases were subsequently recovered, but require massive conservation effort to restore them to anything like full health.Various companies and agencies came heroically to the rescue – but more is needed!

The Fund-raising dinner in Melbourne University on Friday 21st October was told of the heroes: Argyle Diamonds (Rio Tinto) showed how much respect they’ve learnt for their neighbours since Rio came aboard by flying in helicopters during the flood to airlift the sodden canvases out. Toll Transport then found refrigerated trucks to get them safely to Melbourne – packed in crates borrowed from the NT Museum & Art Gallery. In Melbourne, the Public Records Office found space to dry them out very, very gently. And since then, students and conservation staff at the University’s specialist Department under Prof Robyn Sloggett have begun to work small miracles.
But the $15,000 raised that night is but a start.
So, in Sydney, a charity auction is being held under the auspices of the Aboriginal Benefits Foundation. It’s at the Stills Gallery in Paddington on Sunday 13th November, from 2-4pm. The event will include entertainment by dancers from NAISDA the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association. Warmun artists such as Roberta Daylight, Rammey Ramsey and Eileen Juli have donated works to the auction – Daylight’s being an image of the flood itself.
And at Christmas, Mossenson Galleries in Melbourne are doing a show on Warmun to support the conservation.
Of course, the artists of Warmun will contribute their talents on canvas. But the whole community there will then get involved in building a new community art museum for this precious collection. Apprentices will learn new crafts. And this time it’ll be on stilts!
The hoped-for final act will be a corroboree. Senior artist, Patrick Mung Mung wants to bring dancers and singers down to Melbourne to bring the works home. For there is community concern – not yet addressed – about the cause of the flood. For them, ‘natural causes’ like days of rain are never enough! Was it an offended owl – like the one in Hector Jandany’s powerful painting of himself as an owl? Or was it a message like the Darwin Cyclone Tracy which kicked off the East Kimberley painting movement in the mid-70s?
So a corroboree about conservation, as the KrillKrill was a corroboree about story-telling and creation, would be quite appropriate!


Artist: Hector Jandany, Queenie McKenzie, Rover Thomas, Roberta Daylight, Rammey Ramsey , Eileen Juli, Patrick Mung Mung

Category: Feature , Industry , Other Event ,

Tags: aboriginal benefits foundation , Robyn Sloggett , Warmun flood ,