Marnti warajanga Pilbara tour to hit the road soon
Eight weeks, fifteen venues, six towns and 85 workshops. This is the large and exciting task for the Marnti warajanga Pilbara touring itinerary. On the surface the statistics mirror your average touring itinerary for your average national cultural institution but this is Marnti warajanga which, for me, is far from average.
After 9 years at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory I thought I had seen everything that superb Indigenous exhibitions, mixed with rich cultural and engaging public programs, had to offer, but Marnti warajanga is unique. Everything about it steps outside the box when it comes to exhibition content, development and engagement.
Firstly, the remote locations require a purpose-built exhibition designed and fabricated to match the environmental conditions of the Pilbara. Dust, rain, wind, heat - everything bar a cyclone. Mind you, this tour’s itinerary circumnavigates cyclone season. The designer’s brief listed such things as ‘must be able to be washed down with a hose and cloth, must be able to withstand light rain, must be able to be installed within one hour, must have a purpose built dual axle trailer to take it from remote venue to venue, must be able to be installed on grass, dirt or sand’. Now the concept designs are looking good. Can’t wait to see the finished product.
The audience is the communities who tell this story. They are the townships of Port Hedland, Yandeyarra, Warralong, Newman and Jigalong. They are not just Indigenous community members but the long standing locals, teachers, miners and FIFOs (fly in and fly out). I am looking forward to getting to know and understand these audiences.
And the content is not static but grows with each community that is visited. Through the photographic workshops, the audience will have the opportunity to add their own stories and reflections of those key moments in the Pilbara’s democratic history. Some may chose to dispute the history as told by others, others may support them with additional facts and records. It is a truly democratic process which allows the audience to tell their story with such exciting immediacy. Make sure to look out for these additional portraits through the Marnti warajanga website.
The time for our departure is fast approaching and I look up, with dismay, at the many heritage clocks that grace every wall in every hallway, office and bathroom of this beautiful Old Parliament House, and they remind me of how little time I have left. I wish time would stand still for me, like some of these old clocks have, because there is still so much to do before we leave and not just enough time. But we will make it!