Western Desert Mob Exhibition Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships draws 55,000 visitors to Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum.

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum and Western Desert Mob have successfully partnered to celebrate the importance of connection to Country and culture through art, in current exhibition Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships.

The exhibition opened 21 November 2008 and closes 22 February 2009; so far, over 55,000 visitors have enjoyed Yamatji-Pirni: Many Friendships.

Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships is Western Desert Mob’s inaugural collaborative exhibition in Victoria and includes a vibrant collection of paintings, punu (woodcarvings) and tjanpi (weavings) from the Western Desert Mob Art Centre alliance; Kayili Artists, Warakurna Artists, Papulankutja Artists, Maruku Arts, Tjanpi Desert Weavers and Tjarlirli Arts.

Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships provides a wonderful complement to Bunjilaka’s exhibitions detailing the history and cultures of Aboriginal Australia, and to Bunjilaka’s role as a site that empowers Aboriginal people to interpret their own cultural heritage, said Caroline Martin, Bunjilaka Manager. It has been an absolute honour and privilege for both Bunjilaka and Museum Victoria to have had the opportunity to host Yamatji Pirni.

Each piece of work, from the huge paintings to the baskets and the smaller sculptures, strongly tell a story about the artists and their own connection to their country as well as their connections to each other. I’ve never quite seen it before but the colours draw you in and the paintings almost jump off the walls to greet you. Our visitors loved it and so did we, she added. The Art Centres maintain transparent operations, producing artworks of impeccable provenance, with all profits being returned directly to artists, communities and the sustainability of the Western Desert Mob alliance.

Artist and spokesperson of Western Desert Mob Mrs Eunice Porter said her Art Centre, Warakurna Artists is a place that fosters many friendships and it is the strength of these relationships within the Ngaanyatjarra Lands that makes the Western Desert Mob alliance something the artists are proud to be part of. In particular Mrs Porter says her community and the artists at Warakurna benefit from the links Western Desert Mob provides between communities across Australia. At Warakurna we paint to share our stories and our Art Centre is a happy place for this. We have Yamatji Pirni (many friendships) with each community. With Papulankutja, Patjarr, Tjukurla, Mutitjulu and all Western Desert Mob communities. We share our stories with them, Mrs Porter said. When people visit us we welcome them, we want to share our stories with them and with whitefellas to keep our culture strong, Mrs Porter said.

Western Desert Mob Coordinator Mr Tim Acker said Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships is above all a testimony to the importance of strong and united Aboriginal communities. The Western Desert Mob alliance was established to strengthen the Yamatji Pirni (many friendships) between artists and communities in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands and is building momentum with new Art Centres alliances forming around the country. With this exhibition Western Desert Mob members are celebrating our second anniversary and our success in setting new standards in empowering Aboriginal artists, Mr Acker said.

Beyond the collection of inspiring artworks Yamatji Pirni: Many Friendships’ underlying message is to educate art enthusiasts of the positive outcomes that can be achieved through alliances that empower Aboriginal artists and communities like Western Desert Mob.

Western Desert Mob demonstrates the power of proactive and positive alliances between artists and Art Centres, a critical contribution to the wellbeing of their industry and what will ultimately sustain the cultural integrity of Aboriginal art, Mr Tim Acker said.

Authentic art sourced from Aboriginal owned and governed Art Centres provides a quality investment for the individual art buyer and on a broader level supports Aboriginal culture in Australia, Mr Acker said.

Western Desert Mob community Art Centres are one of the most positive examples of Aboriginal owned and governed enterprises. Art Centres enable individuals to access independent livelihoods, improves community wellbeing and empowers artists, Mr Acker said.

Exhibition Details:
Melbourne Museum, Nicholson Street, Carlton. Open 10.00am to 5.00pm daily. Admission: $6 Adults, children and concession FREE. For further information, visit museumvictoria.com.au/bunjilaka or phone 13 11 02.

For further media information, interviews or images, please contact:
Heather Purio on 08 9389 7222 | 0420 988 414 or heather@thehub.net.au