Collaborating with Australia’s most distinguished Aboriginal photographic artist, Professor Wayne Quilliam, the remote Aboriginal community of Yarralin Northern Territory Australia shares a visual story of land-rights and self-determination with the world.
With a career spanning more than 20 years, Quilliam is regarded as one of Australia’s most respected photographers for his work in Indigenous and International affairs. NAIDOC Indigenous artist of the year, Human Rights and Walkley Awards plus numerous art accolades, he continues to evoke emotive discussion, with exhibitions in Europe, USA, Asia, South America and Australia.
Wayne visited Yarralin in early August to capture ‘Our Place’ 2017 Yarralin Calendar. ‘Our Place’ celebrates the return of land ownership, four decades after the Ngarinyman people led a walk-off at Victoria Downs pastoral station, in protest of equal wages and better working conditions, with the ultimate aspiration to reclaim their land.
They walked to Wattie Creek more than 160 kilometres away to join the Gurindji people, whose ongoing 1966 Wavehill walk-off has become an enduring national symbol of the land rights movement.
On June 14, 2016 more than 50,000 hectares of land were finally handed back and is now under Aboriginal ownership. The hand back was a day of celebration and marks another step in the long journey for social justice.
The intrinsic connection to place is expressed through the faces of the community, their stories and the country captured through Wayne’s photographs.
"Capturing the essence of community, that evokes a passionate response, is more intuitive than visual. By watching, listening and conversing with the Yarralin community the photographs took on a life of their own, as the camera become a tool on this incredible journey of laughter and inclusiveness” comments Quilliam.
“The old Uncles sitting at the front of the community store gave us permission and encouraged us to photograph everyone as the young kids skipped around our feet yelling "phodo, phodo, phodo". Parents gathered their children down by the Billabong and Stockyard for family photos as young girls strutted down the main street wanting to be photographed but not really.”
“This series of work was to evoke a response, to visualise the circular relationship between people and country, a country that empowers people and people that look after country.”
Now in the third year of production, the Yarralin Calendar is a social enterprise project incubated by Enterprise Learning Projects (ELP). Profits are reinvested back into the community to seed the development of future creative projects that enable people to build skills, knowledge, confidence and networks to develop their ideas.
The calendar marks all the standard Australian Holidays and significant Aboriginal calendar dates and timelines the history of the land hand-over. ‘Our Place’ 2017 Yarralin Calendar represents a unique cultural learning opportunity and the chance for people all over the world to connect and support the self-determination of Aboriginal people in remote Australia.
Orders at www.gofundme.com/yarralincommunity
(Video: Michael Johnston at Momentary)