Wp/nys/Mungart Boodja Art Centre

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Logo of Mungart Boodja, Albany

Mungart Boodja Art Centre is the first Noongar art centre in Australia. It is based in Wp/nys/Kinjarling - Albany, and was established in 2006. Its sole aim is to facilitate the creation, exhibition, and sale of work created by Noongar artists in the south west of Australia.

Mungart Boodja means “Jam tree country” in Noongar.

Overview[edit | edit source]

Inspired by similar galleries in the northern and central regions of Australia, it emphasises celebration of Noongar culture through prioritising narratives unique to the experience of Noongar people. [1] This is supported by their artist training programmes, working with numerous artists at one time to grant exhibition space and develop skill sharing. The gallery seeks to not only develop Noongar art practice but also serve as a gateway in channelling these artworks into the contemporary art industry, carving out a place for Noongar art production in the mainstream sector. Mungart Boodja Art Centre acts as an advocate for Noongar artists, travelling to art fairs around the country to engage in ethical sales and marketing for the artists they work with, giving them a platform they may have potentially lacked otherwise. Ultimately the Mungart Boodja Art Centre is a vital part of the visual arts industry and contemporary Noongar culture.

Mungart Boodja Art Centre is a founding member of the WA Aboriginal Art Centre Hub, which regulates and supports Aboriginal production of Aboriginal art. The hub ensures that all artists are paid fairly, that artists are given the recognition that they deserve, and that all artwork produced is through artistic expression rather than a sense of pressure or contractual obligation. All arts centres that are part of this hub take a cut of the profit from the art sold, however through existing they carefully monitor practices within the Aboriginal art industry, ensuring all behaviour is ethical and fair to all involved. Through handling these issues with cultural sensitivity, they also are able to guarantee the genuine authenticity of the work.

Aside from Mungart Boodja Art Centre, the other founding members of this hub are:

Through incorporating in one committee, Aboriginal arts centres from across the state are able to have easy dialogue and an ongoing commitment to keeping Aboriginal art under the governance of Aboriginal people.

After the return of the Carrolup paintings to Perth by Colgate University in July 2013, the international focus on Noongar art that this event generated made it more important than ever that contemporary Aboriginal art production be governed and supported by Aboriginal run institutions. Mungart Boodja is a crucial part of this framework.

Notable artists[edit | edit source]

Since the creation of Mungart Boodja Art Centre, numerous Noongar artists have worked in conjunction with the centre.

Alan Kelly Sunset over Katanning 2008 (acrylics on canvas)

Alan Kelly

Alan Kelly was born in 1939 and grew up in Mue-De-La. When he was eight the police took him from his school without telling his parents and he was taken to the Carrolup Native Settlement. He lived at Carrolup Native Settlement for eight years from the late 1940s to early 1950s, and was one of the children who was encouraged to paint and draw the surrounding landscapes. Kelly’s paintings were part of the Carrolup artworks. He was the last surviving child artist from the Carrolup Native Settlement, and had a long and successful artistic career. [9] Regularly painting in association with Mungart Boodja Art Centre, he contributed to a number of exhibitions including 'Land, Culture and Identity’ (2007) at the Vancouver Art Centre, Albany, Western Australia; 'Revealed: Emerging Artists from Western Australia’s Aboriginal Art Centres’ (2008) at the Central TAFE Art Gallery in Perth; and 'The Legacy of Koorah Coolingah’ at the Brisbane Powerhouse, Queensland (2009).

Ben Pushman

Ben Pushman was born in 1979 in Perth, and now lives in Balingup. His people are of the Minang languge group from the area around Kwoorabup. Throughout Pushman’s career he has focussed primarily on expressing his experiences as a Noongar maam living in an urban environment and his search for identity. A topic he has worked with frequently is scarification, a process which marks the marp of an initiated Noongar maam. Scarification is an important part of traditional visual Noongar language, and Pushman created a series of abstract works around this theme. Another theme explored through Pushman’s art are the six Noongar seasons - Birak, Bunuru, Djeran, Makuru, Djilba and Kambarang.

Caroline Narkle

Caroline Narkle was born in Narrogin, and is one of the daughters of Noongar artist Bella Kelly. At the age of five she was taken from her parents and sent to Wandering Mission with her siblings Cheryl, Lorrice, and Geoffrey. She moved to Mount Barker/Pwakkenbak in 1969 to be with her mother, and eventually married there and had seven children. She later moved to Albany/Kinjarling. As an adult she began to paint, inspired by her mother, who passed on painting techniques to her. Training at Great Southern Tafe in Mount Barker and Albany, she is an established artist who paints mainly from memory, in association with Mungart Boodja Art Centre. Her works have featured in the Brisbane Powerhouse exhibition 'The Legacy of Koorah Coolingah (The Legend of Children Long Ago)’, and the exhibition 'Noongar Koort Boodja – Noongar Heart Land’ at Gadfly Gallery in Perth. [10] She was also a showcased artist at Revealed: Emerging Artists from Western Australia’s Aboriginal Art Centres in 2015, in conjunction with Mungart Boodja. [11]

Charlie Colbung

Charlie Colbung was born in Mount Barker/Pwakkenbak and is the great-nephew of Bella Kelly. In his visual art he is incredibly versatile, working with oils, acrylics, watercolours, mixed media, pencil and pastel. Colbung has worked extensively within the Noongar community as an arts practitioner, in both visual arts and dance. Through art he seeks to explore aspects of Noongar culture and identity, themes which resonate strongly with his own experience. Painting in association with Mungart Boodja Art Centre, he has participated in a number of exhibitions.

  • “Liminal”, Vancouver Arts Centre, Albany, 2005.
  • “Lower Great Southern Noongar Artists Exhibition”, Vancouver Arts Centre, Albany, 2008.
  • “Hotspot”, Residency Museum, Albany, 2007.
  • “The Legacy of Koorah Coolingah”, Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane, 2009.
  • Solo exhibition, Mungart Boodja Art Centre, Albany, 2008.
  • “Bwokkenup-Boodja Mort and Me”, Katanning Town Hall, Katanning, 2008.
  • “Revealed: Emerging Artists from Western Australia’s Aboriginal Art Centres”, Central TAFE Art Gallery, Perth, 2008.
“Country is very important to me. I nearly always paint the Stirling area because this is where my mother came from and where I grew up. I think that art gets people together to share stories and knowledge about the land and our culture. We want to be able to pass this on to the next generation." Caroline Narkle.

Revealed: Emerging Artists from Western Australia’s Aboriginal Art Centres[edit | edit source]

Yarn-ba nunnak, kworbadaatj djiinagniny-yarra nunnak ka Wanju Wanju ba Nyungar boodja, Wadjuk boodja.
Ngallak ka kow-kowaininy djiinagniny-yarra boolariny ngoop nitja.
Kooliny-yarra nitja djiinagniny boolariny-yarra kwobadaatj marr waanganiny baalap ba dookoorniny ba Revealed 2015, Emerging Artists from WA

Hello how are you, it is beautiful to see you and Welcome to Nyungar Boodja, Wadjuk Boodja.
We are happy to see many nations here.
Come here and see lots of beautiful artwork they have made for Revealed 2015, Emerging Artists from Western Australia.
- Barry McGuire, 2015[12]

Revealed: Emerging Artists from Western Australia’s Aboriginal Art Centres is an exhibition and art fair hosted by the Central TAFE Gallery in Perth. It has been held annually since 2008, and Mungart Boodja regularly contributes to and cooperates with the exhibition.[13]

Ngiyan waarnk - References[edit | edit source]

  1. Mungart Boodja Art Centre - Aboriginal Art Centre Hub of Western Australia
  2. Martumili Artists
  3. Roebourne Art Group
  4. Tjukurba Gallery/Birriliburu Artists
  5. Wirnda Barna Artists
  6. Yamaji Art
  7. Walkatjurra Cultrual Centre
  8. Tjuntjuntjara Community - Spinifex Arts Project
  9. The Australian, "Boys' artistic yearning recalled after 50 years", 6 August 2013
  10. Caroline Narkle, Design and Art Australia online
  11. The West Australian, "Talented trio chosen to exhibit", 13 April 2015
  12. Revealed: Emerging Artists from Western Australia’s Aboriginal Art Centres 2015 catalogue
  13. The West Australian, "Revealed: Emerging Artists from Western Australia’s Aboriginal Art Centres", April 2015