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Mowanjum gets ready to celebrate

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Mowanjum gets ready to celebrate

Posted on 04 Jul 2019

Organisers of the Mowanjum Festival are expecting more than 1000 people to attend the annual celebration of Wandjina-Unguud art and culture on July 12.

Mowanjum Arts General Manager Ella Doonan says the event, which has been running for 21 years will involve art works, boab nut carving, ochre painting, book launches, singing, exhibitions and popular Junba dancing in the afternoon and evening.

The midwinter festival attracts people from throughout Western Australia as well as tourists from around the world.

Gates will open at 2 pm and the show will go live at 5 pm with music by Kallum Mungulu

One of the performing art features this year will be the Warmun Dance Group.

The rock painting tradition

In addition, the celebrations will include two book launches – one an insight into Kimberley rock art and the other the story of Junba dancing and story-telling.

The books are important works on key elements of indigenous culture from the Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Wunambal peoples with magnificent illustrations.

Wunambal Gaambera and Dambimangari have published a book by Sylvester Mangolamara, Lily Karadada, Janet Oobagooma, Donny Woolagoodja and Jack Karadada. Compiled by Kim Doohan the book “We Are Coming to See You" looks at the important role played by rock art in sustaining the groups’ heritage and recording history. 

Dr Doohan says the work is an opportunity for the old people to explain the meaning of rock art and stone placements.

The Junba Project is a collaboration involving Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Wunambal Traditional Owners, Melbourne University and Mowanjum Arts. The project has revived the art of storytelling through traditional song and dance connecting the modern participants to language and country.

Ella Doonan says the Mowanjum Festival has become a showcase for local Kimberley Aboriginal culture and heritage.

“But it’s also a lot of fun” she said

“The festival is a family occasion and many of the visitors – particularly children – thoroughly enjoy the activities and celebrations”