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Warnarral Ngoorrngoorrool is the Gija word for ‘old car’ and now the name of a new contemporary instrument and powerful cultural object that has been created in the east Kimberley from an old car wreck.
Over 3 weeks in August and September 2023, Warnarral Ngoorrngoorrool will make its way from Kununurra to Perth through the Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne, Mid West and finally onto Boola Bardip, the Western Australian Museum’s Perth site.
Entitled The Journey Down, the epic 3,456 kilometre trek will be an animated and vibrant performance of culture, dance, song, projections and otherworldly sound coming together onto a travelling canvas of story and culture. The tour will present an intercultural performance program to 12 communities and regional centres. The program has been commissioned from and developed by Gija, Miriwoong and non-Indigenous artists from around Australia.
Warnarral Ngoorrngoorrool is the result of an extraordinary six year community based arts project initiated by Tura in 2017. During this long-term intercultural collaboration between Gija (Warmun) and Miriwoong (Kununurra) artists and performers with non-Indigenous musicians, an old car wreck has been transformed into a significant cultural object shaped by sound and stories of cars, transport and Country from Gija and Miriwoong communities.
Following the initial collaboration with the Warmun Community, Gija artists Shirley Purdie, Gordon Barney, Nancy Nodea, Lindsay Malay, Gabriel Nodea, Mark Nodea, Eddie Nulgit, April Nulgit and Charlene Carrington have painted stories about cars, Country and community onto the object itself. These stories imbued Warnarral Ngoorrngoorrool with new meaning and importance as a much cherished cultural object.
In 2020 the WA Museum acquired the work, further establishing the object’s cultural significance to WA and Australia more broadly. The object will be on display from the end of 2023 in WA Museum Boola Bardip.
Gija advisor and chair of Warmun Arts Centre Madeline Purdie comments “This will be a powerful celebration of both our stories and the intercultural collaboration that has surrounded this project since it started. It has been and will be an ongoing two-way exchange of knowledge and understanding which we are delighted will be shared on the Journey and then forever in Perth”
Chris Griffiths, Miriwoong Advisor and Journey performer said ”Cars have been such an important part of our recent history and stories – not just as transport but full of culture and meaning. I’m so proud to be able to perform as part of this collaboration across cultures”
Tos Mahoney, Artistic Director, Tura New Music said: “It has been a total privilege to have been part of this multi-layered project involving so many people over such a long time – people from very differing backgrounds and perspectives generously sharing and learning. Amazingly powerful things have happened on the way and The Journey Down will be another chapter in the life of Warnarral Ngoorrngoorrool – we look forward to sharing this journey with Australia and beyond.”
The Journey Down will travel to the communities of Kununurra, Warmun, Halls Creek, Wangkatjungka, Fitzroy Crossing, Broome, Hedland, Roebourne, Karratha, Carnarvon, Geraldton, Midland and finally arrive in Perth, where there will be a special event at the Kings Park next to the Warmun Boab tree to welcome Warnarral Ngoorrngoorrool.
The Journey Down tour has been supported by the State Government of Western Australia through the Regional Arts and Cultural Investment Program, and the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its Arts Funding and Advisory Body.Read more about The Journey Down here.