A PLACE CALLED WALAPUNPA

In 2014 the Mungkarta community requested that Barkly Regional Arts document cultural traditions as a resource for their younger generation. The community decided to return to their homeland, Walapunpa, which they have not been to in over 30 years. The three and half our journey South West of Tennant Creek to Walapunpa, saw the BRA Media Mob documentary team, along with more than 40 members of the Mungkarta community head out for a week long camp.

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Elders, rangers and custodians took the families and documentary team all over Walapunpa, showing traditional sites, telling cultural stories, hunting, painting and most importantly remembering and sharing their history. The documentary team captured every moment to produce a DVD so that the community of Mungkarta can share with future generations, inspire more communities to do the same, and teach others about their culture.

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This project is a wonderful example of the holistic, multi arts model that Barkly Regional Arts operates within. The community of Mungkarta is predominately associated with BRA through our ‘Artists of the Barkly’ program, as an active Indigenous visual arts community. Through this relationship of managing their works on their behalf, we have developed a number of important cultural resources, including the creation and printing of a book on ‘Bush Medicine and Tucker’. It was the success of this project that inspired the community of Mungkarta to create a digital resource for their future generations.

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mungkarta-lc_11-06-2014__11-06-2014_6311The digital aspect then brought in our ‘Media Mob’ personnel who began to consult with the community about the scope and content of what they wanted to create. Over the course of a few months we had the basis for an entire documentary to capture a range of important cultural activities. In entering the draft stage of a script, we began involving our Winanjjikari Music Centre through musician Leslie Thompson (nephew of the Rankine sisters) who had written a song, ‘Going Back to Walapunpa’ (listen to song here). The song is a major feature in the documentary and a primary reason for the decision to return to their homeland to create the documentary on country. The project then also attracted our research partners from Griffith University who joined us on the trip to begin to collect evidence and information for ‘Creative Barkly’, a 3-year ARC Linkage project (read summary here) to measure the impact that the arts has on the Barkly region and what it contributes, using qualitative and quantitative data.

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This project demonstrates the major benefit of being a multi-arts organisation, in that we can deliver an entire quality package from beginning to end, in house, from a very remote part of Australia.

About Mungkarta

Local language: Warlpiri
Location: Just off the Stuart Highway, 80km South of Tennant Creek
Art Centre: Mungkarta
Artist Group: Mungkarta Artists (Artists of the Barkly)
Main artform: Canvas paintings, Weaving
Art Centre Manager: None- All the artists work together

Mungkarta is 40 minutes South of Tennant Creek and just a 5-minute drive West off the Stuart Highway and is home to no more than 150 people.
Mungkarta is not the traditional homeland for this community but they have lived there for over 40 years. Their traditional homeland is a placed called Walapunpa which is a further 270km south-west. It has no running water or electricity. The community of Mungkarta paint the stories of their rain dreaming.

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The main family of Mungkarta is the Rankine families, which include 5 very strong sisters (Tricia, Audrey, Louise, Laura and Emily). It was these women who drove the creation of ‘A PLACE CALLED WALAPUNPA’, in order to have a resource so that their future generations could learn about their history.

You can view ‘A PLACE CALLED WALAPUNPA’ here: https://vimeo.com/146124645

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To premiere this documentary we held a launch as part of the 2016 Desert Harmony Festival, in Tennant Creek. The launch was held at Nyinkka Nyunyu Arts and Culture Centre in which audiences were treated to the first public screening. To coincide with the screening, the community of Mungkarta created an exhibition of works around their dreaming stories, which were displayed in the Nyinkka Nyunyu art gallery. This exhibition was a great way for audiences to see their art works in context to the film; learning about their homeland, their dreaming, their scared sites and understand the importance of continuing to paint these works and for future generations to carry on the tradition.

You can view the online exhibition here.

Awards
Documentary Finalist- Capricornia Film Awards (Darwin International Film Festival)

This project is produced by Barkly Regional Arts with funding from Arts NT- Regional Arts Fund



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