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K u r l k ay i m a N g at h a Remember me

T h i s i s a 2 8 pag e p r ev i ew. f o r t h e c o m p l e t e 1 4 4 pa g e p u b l i c at i o n , pleas e vi s it fo rm . b ig cartel .com o r j o i n u s at fo rm . n et. au/m em b e rs h i p

Film still by cinematographer Giovanni C. Lorusso in the Pilbara, 2015.

Murlumurlu Ptilotus nobilis (Amaranthaceae) Mulla Mulla Collected in Nyiyaparli country. The soft, cylindrical flowers of the murlumurlu plant were used to fill bags or kangaroo skins to make pillows. The murlumurlu, is one of the most iconic flowers of the Pilbara. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2016


Foreword 8 Introduction 14 Curatorial Note 18 Botanical Notes 24 Bonnie & Brian Tucker


May Byrne & Beverly Hubert


Fiona Foley—Djon Mundine OAM


Eunice Napanangka Jack—Chrischona Schmidt


Adrian Condon 61 Yandicoogina David Stock 66 Stephen Hopper 70 Hilda Flan 79 Bill Gammage 84 Philippa Nikulinsky 93 Giovanni Lorusso 100 Wadu Tucker 104 Julie Walker 110 June Injie 114 Lorraine Injie 119 Marnmu Smyth 125 Nancy Tommy 130 Roma Butcher & Doreen James 134 Thank you 142

Thurla Mardamarda (Yinhawangka name) Swainsona formosa Sturt’s Desert Pea Collected in Nyiyaparli country. The flower of this plant can be sucked for its sweet, honey-tasting nectar. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2016

foreword Lorraine Injie IBN Corporation Chairperson

Remember me

In Aboriginal culture, almost every

Australia. Just like my grandmothers and

swimming, fishing and collecting bush

aspect of life has something to do with

their grandmothers before them, I am an

tucker. Our Elders taught us from an early

plants. Plants provide different types

Yinhawangka. Up until 200 years ago the

age the names of different plants, what

of food, medicines, tools (artefacts) and

Yinhawangka people lived and occupied

plants we could eat, use as medicine, how

are an important resource to Aboriginal

the upper plateaus of the Hamersley

to make artefacts and weave baskets to

people. Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember


trap fish. As we grew older, I remember

Me provides a unique glimpse into the complexity of Aboriginal ecological knowledge and explores the links between botany, land, and cultural identity.

there were trees in the school yard that For as long as I can remember, I have had a strong passion for collecting

we would pick off the nuts and berries particularly the sweet ones!

and recording traditional Aboriginal knowledge of flora, fauna and place

The Aboriginal people of the Pilbara not

The traditional lands of the Yinhawangka,

names, because to me, this knowledge

only have distinct identities, but come

Banyjima and Nyiyaparli (YBN) people

is so important. This traditional cultural

from distinct places, and have specific

extend across the Hamersely Ranges in

knowledge not only unites us to our past

knowledge about the plants of those

the heart of the inland Pilbara region, in

but connects us to our future. When I was

places. However, dispossession and mining

the high country of northern Western

younger, we would spend all weekend

in the Pilbara region has meant that


K u r l k ay i m a N g at h a

much of the traditional linguistic and

incorporating biodiversity, land and

Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me was

cultural knowledge of the Yinhawangka,

cultural values. FORM has honored this

developed in response to requests from

Banyjima and Nyiyaparli is on the verge

traditional knowledge with the efforts

Elders and the YBN community after the

of becoming extinct. If this knowledge

of Sharmila Wood (Curator), Andrew

successful Marlbatharndu Wanggagu: Once

became extinct before we had the

Dowding (Anthropologist) and Rhianna

Upon A Time in the West (2014), capturing

opportunity to share it, it would be as if

Pezzaniti (Environmental Scientist) we

Aboriginal stories of station life in the

our people never existed.

are grateful to them for bringing their


skills to this project, promoting respect for This would be a gross injustice to the Elders of the past, who lived to an old age without the science and medicine that we have today. We must continue to pass this knowledge on to our future generations

Aboriginal culture. FORM has captured

For most YBN people, the loss of land

this knowledge through storytelling,

through dispossession means that the

film, photography and the collection of

connection with Country requires

traditional plant samples with support

support. IBN Corporation believes this

from the Western Australian Herbarium.

project connects people to the strong

to remember how our Elders lived and survived. Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me is about sharing knowledge. Aboriginal people have a unique connection with the land and have developed distinct knowledge systems and practices

cultural identity that is fundamental to Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me has

Aboriginal social and emotional well-

provided the Yinhawangka, Banyjima and

being and recognises the traditional

Nyiyaparli people with the opportunity

historical and botanical knowledge

to express their traditional knowledge

of Aboriginal people in the Pilbara.

and contribute to preserving and sharing

These knowledge systems and cultural

the stories embedded in the Country for

expressions continue to remain a source

future generations to share.

of strength, pride and resilience.


Remember me

Film still by cinematographer Giovanni C. Lorusso in the Pilbara, 2015.


Film still by cinematographer Giovanni C. Lorusso in the Pilbara, 2015.

K u r l k ay i m a N g at h a

introduction Lynda Dorrington FORM Executive Director

Picture the Pilbara and what comes to mind may often comprise wide sweeps of red earth, blue sky, endless horizons and the architecture of ancient rock. The landscape is indeed dramatic, but sometimes it can be at the seemingly smallest level of detail that the richest stories can be found. Within a single plant, a leaf, even a seed, is contained complex and ancient knowledge. Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me is a creative project that gives audiences an insight into Aboriginal societies’ understanding of place through botany and methodology of plant use, the project engages Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli and people as participants, alongside commissioned artwork by Eunice Napanangka Jack from Ikuntji

Senna glutinosa subsp. pruinosa (Fabaceae)

in Central Australia, and Badtjala artist

Collected in Banyjima country. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2016

Fiona Foley.


Remember me

The exhibition, which incorporates

the Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli

FORM has demonstrated a long-term

film, documentation, paintings and

people. In seeking to strengthen culture

commitment to building opportunities

installation work, aims to offer different

and well-being, FORM and IBN have

for Aboriginal culture to flourish, and

ways of presenting Aboriginal traditional

partnered to increase opportunities for the

has forged cross-sector partnerships

knowledge and history. At the same time,

community to engage with a broad and

to multiply these impacts. Our Pilbara

the high country of the North West of

inclusive creative platform, which has been

programming continues to combine artistic

Australia is reframed and revealed from

designed to share and present their culture

and creative excellence with community

an ethno-botanical perspective not only

in a contemporary context.

engagement and development. The Spinifex

by the visiting artists and non-Aboriginal participants, but also by the traditional owners who know and understand it, down to its most diminutive aspects.

Hill Studios for example, which opened The processes and methodology employed by FORM in initiatives such as Marlbatharndu Wanggagu – Once Upon a Time in the West (2014) and Kurlkayima

in South Hedland in early 2014 and is managed by FORM, supports a range of creative expressions while at the same time facilitating Aboriginal people's access

Although the presentation and production

Ngatha - Remember Me have been devised

of art anchors Kurlkayima Ngatha -

to increase the visibility of Aboriginal

Remember Me, it only reveals part of

voices and culture. The process of creating

the larger project, which has been

Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me has also

Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me

developed through a partnership with

facilitated an intercultural platform that

illustrates FORM’s commitment to

IBN Corporation (IBN). The project has

has brought together Aboriginal people

showcasing the riches of Aboriginal

facilitated return trips to Country with

from different artistic backgrounds and

culture, land management and connection

Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli

traditions. Through connecting diverse

to Country. This exhibition draws attention

people who have reconnected with

artists and organisations together over

to the status of the Pilbara as a biodiversity

memories of land through sharing,

vast distances, the project has enabled the

hotspot; it reminds us how vulnerable

recording and documentation.

exchange of information about different

this unique environment is. For the

approaches to interpreting, place, memory

Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli

and connections to Country, demonstrating

people, it is also home.

FORM shares with IBN Corporation the desire to sustain and celebrate Aboriginal culture for the long-term sustainability of

the way arts and enterprise can sustain and renew knowledge.


to economic and cultural opportunities, in turn promoting self-determination.

Film still by cinematographer Giovanni C. Lorusso in the Pilbara, 2015.

C u r ato r i a l n ote Sharmila Wood FORM Curator

Androcalva luteiflora Collected in Nyiyaparli country. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2016

Remember me

The importance of the natural world, of

Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me

knowledge and practices which are

botany, and of landscape, is pervasive in

has been a vehicle for the interaction

beginning to become memories. Yet, it

the artwork, film and stories that comprise

of science, art, and Aboriginal ethno-

also reveals the ongoing use of plants

Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me. The

botany. The exhibition has also facilitated

as medicine and food. The process of

exhibition explores how knowledge and

intercultural exchange between

collecting and recording this cultural

the human imagination can interact

disparate Aboriginal communities and

heritage was an important outcome of this

with the environment through art,

artists. To date, it has brought together


ritual, science and culture in ways that

a botanist, an environmental scientist,

variously sustain, revere, and sometimes,

an anthropologist, a cinematographer,

destroy. The exhibition is a meditation

leading contemporary artists and the

on place and belonging, memory and

Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli

loss, renewal and decay. It is a reflection

(YBN) people through exchange,

on what it might be to live away from

collaboration and production.

This process was developed in partnership with IBN Corporation who endorsed the project following the success of Marlbatharndu Wanggagu Once Upon a Time in the West. Andrew Dowding, an Aboriginal anthropologist

home, how it is to be dispossessed from For the YBN community, the project has

who works extensively in the North West

facilitated return trips to Yurlu (Country)

with elders and a range of communities,

and a way to reconnect with experience

travelled with FORM’s Rhianna Pezzaniti

and uses of botany and land management.

and myself on field trips along with

It has created an archive for the future

cinematographer Giovanni Lorusso. The

and documented knowledge from which

Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli

The Yurlu (Country) misses its people

more knowledge can be produced. In the

people who wanted to be part of the

and implores them to kurlkayima ngatha

recording of stories in film, audio and

project requested us to meet them on their

(remember me).

text there is an undertone of longing

Yurlu (Country). This often involved very

for the past - for the old people and the

long drives from the towns where most

Country. Aboriginal land management practices were pragmatic and respectful of the interconnectedness between people and the ecosystem, between a healthy Country and human intervention.


K u r l k ay i m a N g at h a

YBN people now live. This highlighted the

The plants are the Pilbara in miniature -

In expanding the project to explore the

vast distances that have separated YBN

each suggest a story of place, season, and

diverse connections between botany and

people from their traditional lands and

time. Although scientifically pressed and

culture, Badtjala artist Fiona Foley was

place of belonging, causing displacement

dried, classified and categorised, the samples

commissioned to create the installation

and hardship.

retain sensuality, fragility, texture, and

works for the exhibition. Foley’s work

form. They appear visceral and suggest the

commonly incorporates botanical elements

promise of perfume. When photographed

as symbolic, metaphoric and cultural

on a white surface the samples have the

material. She is one of Australia’s foremost

appearance of delicate sculptural objects.

contemporary artists, and has been

They are also metonyms for Yurlu (Country)

presenting work since the 1980s. Her

and for Aboriginal culture. As Lorraine

work is represented in many of Australia’s

Injie IBN Chairperson and Lore and Culture

major public art collections and she works

Officer commented, ‘they are like bringing

across a range of media, including painting,

in a piece of the Country.’ In this way the

photography, printmaking, sculpture and

samples become cultural symbols for a


Giovanni Lorusso is interested in combining the philosophy of language with new forms of cinematographic expressions. He was tasked with capturing how YBN people interacted with the land. Lorusso did this through creating atmospheric and evocative images that reach towards the transcendence of nature. He captured the dichotomies of light and dark to hint at the timelessness of a landscape, which has repeated the cycle of birth to death for eons. Lorusso documents the scale and vastness of the landscape, and the minutiae of soil, stone, plant and leaf. The intimacy of Kurlkayima Ngatha Remember Me is also embodied in plant samples collected by Environmental Scientist Rhianna Pezzaniti, with the support of the Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Parks and Wildlife. The Herbarium's Pilbara Identification Botanist Steve Dillon helped to guide us in the collection process and assisted in identifying the scientific names for plants.

dense and expansive traditional knowledge system of ecology through which Aboriginal people managed plants and botany for food, for medicine and for the future. They are gentle relics that express the vanitas which is part of the eternal story of regeneration and renewal, decay and loss.

Foley has a reputation as a provocateur, often challenging the status quo through revealing hidden or marginalised aspects of Australian history and race relations. She commonly uses strategies of subterfuge, inviting audiences to engage with artwork that is seductively beautiful but, in fact,

The botanical illustrator Philippa Nikulinsky

symbolises unseemly and sinister elements

similarly captures moments of time in her

of our past. For instance, Foley’s public

meditative and detailed field drawings.

art commission for the State Library of

Nikulinsky pictures the survivors of arid

Queensland, Black Opium (2006), and

environments that bloom year after year,

her work, Bliss (2006), at the Museum

revels in their beauty and the dignity of

of Contemporary Art, use exquisite and

survival and age. The field drawings in the

elegant poppies to reference the 1897

exhibition are immediate because they are

Aboriginals Protection and Restriction

captured on the spot, and they carry with

of the Sale of Opium Act. This legislation

them the traces of the environment.

was an instrument of colonisation and subjugation that ultimately led to oppressive


Remember me

State control over Aboriginal people and

Similarly the large-scale text-based

painting, and her meticulous dots evoke the

legitimised population removal into reserves.

artwork in aluminium, IOU (2016),

wildflowers around Tjukurrla'.

is concerned with how the impact of Foley’s artwork in Kurlkayima Ngatha Remember Me similarly employs metaphor for much broader concepts underpinning the history of Western Australian race relations. The body of work she has

colonisation continues to ripple through contemporary society through the debt owed from stolen land and stolen wages, whilst incorporating objects found on Pyramid Station in the Pilbara.

developed for this exhibition is layered with

In our contemporary world concerns about the environment have led to a reexamination of how we interact with nature and develop a more meaningful relationship with the earth. Within this context Aboriginal culture and land

meaning to reflect the time Foley spent in

Songmen (2016) features boomerangs used

management practices, which sustained a

the Pilbara on a field trip meeting traditional

by Aboriginal singers in the Pilbara and

balance in the environment over millennia,

owners as she travelled from the Burrup

is a collaboration with Brian Tucker. It

and will experience a renaissance. Whilst

Peninsula inland through the Millstream

also features a set of boomerangs made by

race relations and colonisation have

Chichester National Park to Weeli Wooli

David Cox. This work reveals how Foley's

resulted in dispossession, silencing and

Creek and Newman.

art investigates the deep connection

marginalisation, Aboriginal beliefs in the

between the cultural and natural contexts

interconnectedness between people and

of place and Aboriginality. Through song,

ecology provides a beacon for the future.

The irreverently titled Pontificate On This (2015), references the historical significance of tobacco as a source of barter, and its use in the North West when mixed with white

the intricate symbiotic relationships between people, art, culture, plants and animals is echoed across the millennia.

ash to create a mild narcotic. The 66 cast aluminium clay pipes represent the number

In showcasing the diverse ways place

of clauses within Western Australia’s

is evoked through botanical forms,

Aborigines Act 1905, echoing the earlier

Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me also

Queensland legislation referenced in Foley’s

includes a series of paintings by senior

significant body of work on opium. Foley’s

Ikuntji artist, Eunice Napanangka Jack. As

work draws out the parallels between

Dr Chrischona Schmidt writes, Eunice’s

Queensland and Western Australia, States

work brings her Country with her into the

in which the tools of colonial administration

painting: ‘Napanangka sings the songs of

were a particularly blunt force in the

her ancestral spirit, the wallaby woman;

everyday lives of Aboriginal people.

she travels through her Country whilst


Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me.

Film still by cinematographer Giovanni C. Lorusso in the Pilbara, 2015.

When you’re standing in an air-

The Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me

important to seek out, extend and

conditioned city-centre gallery, a box of

project simultaneously follows this model

preserve these traditional knowledge

walls and glass and ceilings, your spatial

and extends it, combining science with art,

systems, and create enduring partnerships

awareness dictated not by distance

botany with story, partner with partner.

between arts bodies, science bodies and

and wide horizon but by the geometry

What appears in this exhibition is but

Indigenous people. It could be of benefit

of angled and artificial light, it can be

a small fraction of the project’s scope,

to us all if traditional knowledge could

difficult to connect what you’re seeing

developed and documented from repeated

be better recognised and integrated with

and hearing – artworks, objects or

trips to Country with Yinhawangka,

Western science; and perhaps projects like

installations, film footage or audio – with

Banyjima and Nyiyaparli people. Many

Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me can

a place thousands of kilometres away,

hours of driving, walking, talking and

act as a pilot for what could be developed

and with knowledge tens of thousands of

gathering. Of filming, watching and

and achieved in the future. Surely an

years old.

listening. Of generous sharing and

experience-based, practice-led knowledge

collaboration, individual and collective,

– how humans have learned about the

across regions and areas of expertise. The

planet from the planet itself – is every bit

deep, empirical, irreplaceable knowledge

as valid as laboratory-based research.

It’s a little over a decade now since FORM started working in the Pilbara, embarking on partnerships and projects intended to share knowledge and experiences of this vast and complex part of Western Australia; to encourage people’s awareness and appreciation regardless of the length of their connection to the area, and to facilitate creative and cultural exchange for the betterment of all. Right from the organisation’s early days in Newman to its present involvement with Port Hedland, many stories have been told through a variety of media: paintings, objects, installations, photography, film and words. In collaboration with partners drawn from both private and public sectors, FORM has gathered these stories up, shared them with local audiences and taken them beyond the Pilbara’s boundaries to delight and enlighten many other audiences, both domestic and international.

of the region’s Aboriginal people combined with the painstaking identifications and scientific protocols of the Western Australian Herbarium, and with the wisdom and cultural guidance of the IBN Corporation. All of this, catalysed by FORM’s determination to help foster the maintenance and sharing of precious knowledge, and offer new ways to new audiences of appraising and honouring it, through cultural and artistic means. I was fortunate to travel to the remote reaches of the Pilbara, and experience first-hand the privilege of following the Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me project’s Aboriginal participants as they located a particular plant or bush, and then spoke of its healing and nutritional properties. As the world becomes ever more urbanised and industrialised, it seems increasingly

In the meantime, the project is a link to a place thousands of kilometres away, and with knowledge tens of thousands of years old. Imagine that the Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me exhibition, as well as comprising plant specimens, film and art, also contains wide open spaces, the noise of insects, and the nip of a hot desert wind. Hear it amplify the quiet voices of Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli people, explaining how bush medicine can be made from the sap of the bunungu tree, and what happens when you wash in nhirti infused water. Let it offer a tiny sample of traditional knowledge, garnered from millennia of desert life and experience, and passed carefully from generation to generation.

Remember me

b ota n i c a l n otes Rhianna Pezzaniti FORM Environmental Scientist

Ptilotus calostachyus (Amaranthaceae) Weeping Mulla Mulla Collected in Banyjima country. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2016


Film stills by cinematographer Giovanni C. Lorusso in the Pilbara, 2015.

K u r l k ay i m a N g at h a

Marruwa Acacia xiphophylla (Fabaceae) Snakewood Collected in Yinhawangka country. Murruwa is the best type of firewood, it burns all night. It can be used to make wirra, (boomerangs) and fighting sticks. The ash of this tree is also mixed with tobacco to make a substance people like to chew called pulkurr. The marruwa is also a good source for gum and the seeds can also be cooked in the fire and eaten. Photograph by Bewley Shaylor, 2016


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Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me - catalogue preview  

Kurlkayima Ngatha—Remember Me presents the outcomes of an ongoing project developed in partnership with IBN Corporation and the Yinhawangka,...

Kurlkayima Ngatha - Remember Me - catalogue preview  

Kurlkayima Ngatha—Remember Me presents the outcomes of an ongoing project developed in partnership with IBN Corporation and the Yinhawangka,...

Profile for form-wa