Jadagen Warnkan Barnden at Goulburn Regional Art Gallery — 23 November to 14 December 2013
Installation view Jadagen Warnkan Barnden — Changing Climate in Gija Country, 2013. First section is Barnden / Hot Time. From left to right: Gordon Barney, Ngayirr Ngayirrji (Sulphur Crested Cockatoo); Gordon Barney, Joogoorrool (Bush Orange); Lena Nyadbi, Dayiwool (The Barramundi); Shirley Purdie, Linyjil Ningi Binkany (Cabbage Gum with Sugar Leaf); Shirley Purdie, Jilirr-Jilirrji Doo Jiregem (The Long Yam and the Birds); Rusty Peters, Barranggan Barnden (Living Water in the Hot Time); Rusty Peters, Goowoolem Barndem (Trees in the Hot Time). All works 2013.
Jadagen Warnkan Barnden — Changing Climate in Gija Country is a unique exhibition about Indigenous perceptions of climate change. Senior Gija artists Gordon Barney, Churchill Cann, Betty Carrington, Mabel Juli, Nancy Nodea, Lena Nyadbi, Rusty Peters, Shirley Purdie and Mary Thomas discuss in their paintings the ways in which the interactions of spirits and humans with the plants and animals of East Kimberley indicate typical and atypical seasonal change. The three primary seasons in the north of the Kimberley region in the top end of Western Australia are Wet Time, Cold Time and Hot Time or Jadagen, Warnkan and Barnden. The artists show how seasons are directly linked to observed indicators — including the increase in atypical weather and climate — not to Western calendars.
Farmers around Goulburn and the Southern Highlands will understand how Jadagen Warnkan Barnden weaves together the three disciplines of art, climate change and linguistics. Indigenous peoples and local communities have participated very little in the global dialogue. The artists worked in collaboration with environmental scientist Sonia Leonard, and linguist and cultural consultant Frances Kofod at the Warmun Art Centre in 2012 and 2013. They chose painting to express their views.
Indigenous peoples increasingly face extreme events such as in Churchill Cann’s painting of the ‘big wet’ of March 2011 when waters from Turkey Creek raged through Warmun Aboriginal Community (200 km south of Kununurra), flooding buildings including the Art Centre. Recently Gija artists have celebrated the return of some of the saved and conserved historic artworks. Other triumphs post-flood are Lena Nyadbi’s artwork in Paris and Mabel Juli and Churchill Cann both winning major awards. The exhibition, climate language lists and catalogue record Gija culture to pass on to younger generations and the world.
Jadagen / Wet Time: Churchill Can, Warrambany (Ord River Flood), 2013. Right-hand side from What lies beneath?, an exhibition on the impacts of long-wall coal mining and coal seam gas mining on the Southern Highlands farm region.
Jadagen / Wet Time from left to right: Churchill Can, Warrambany (Ord River Flood); Mabel Juli, Tharriyarrel (Rainbow); Mabel Juli, Ngoomelji Doo Malngirriny (Cloud and Lightning, Wet Time); Nancy Nodea, Mayawarnji Jalawoonany Marlinyji (Willy Willy and Cane Grass); Nancy Nodea, Goorra Goorral (The Storm Bird or the Channel Billed Cuckoo); Shirley Purdie, Garlooroony Doo Wirrirril (The Rainbow Serpent and the Lorikeets); Rusty Peters, Jabananggany (Big Storm from the South). All works 2013.
Part of a wider Kimberley project about Indigenous Perceptions of Climate Change by the National Climate Change Adaption Research Facility (NCCARF) and Melbourne University. Thanks to Goulburn Regional Art Gallery and the artists in What Lies Beneath? and the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group. Thanks to lenders: Phillip Boulten, Christine Conlon, Tim Game, John and Annette Holder, Katie and Sean Watson.
A colour catalogue, Jadagen Warnkan Barnden, links story, language and landscape. $40 (plus $5 post) from The Cross Art Projects and Warmun Art Centre. All paintings are natural ochre and pigments on Belgian linen or canvas. Large works 100 x 140 cm; other works 60 x 80 cm.
Jadagen Warkan Barnden was co-presented with What Lies Beneath? and the Southern Highlands and Goulbourn region artists whose work interprets and often defines their immediate landscape including the possibility of CSG mining. A Symposium Event was held on 23 November with Guest Speaker Kirsty Ruddock, Director of Enforcement Group NSW and the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group.
Jadagen Warkan Barnden — Changing Climate in Gija Country opened at The Cross Art Projects on 12 September in the presence of Lena Nyadbi. Presented by The Cross Art Projects and Warmun Art Centre.
Warnkan / Cold Time. From left to right: Rusty Peters, Girinyil (The Katydid Grasshopper); Mary Thomas, Warrarnany Warnkan (The Wedge Tail Eagle in the Cold Time); Mabel Juli, Wininim (Emu Chickens); Betty Carrington, Goonjal (Kapok Bush); Mabel Juli, Labany Doo Derranel (Corella and Black Cockatoo); Mabel Juli, Ngawoonyji (Pencil Yam); Nancy Nodea, Goonjingarnal (Bauhinia Flowers). All works 2013.