Sunday, 21 September 2008

Acceptance Speech: Aboriginal Business of the Year

East Kimberley Aboriginal Achievement Awards, Saturday, 20 September 2008, Kununurra
By Jacqueline Coyle-Taylor, onstage with Patrick Mung Mung
On behalf of the Directors and Members of Warmun Art Aboriginal Corporation, thank you. This is a great honour, in the year that Warmun Art Centre reaches ten years old.
At Warmun Art, we talk a lot about Dreamings. Our artworks are based on story: of Ngarrangkarni, of artists' life experiences, of Gija life post colonial settlement.
So the art centres on Dreamings. And this art centre runs on dreams. It began with a dream: in 1975 when Rover Thomas dreamed what became the performance series called the Gurirr Gurirr, with dancers carrying painted boards on their shoulders. Artists still call paintings boards, whether canvas or not, and the Gurirr Gurirr is still performed.
Then artists dreamed of bringing the profits from the paintings home to Warmun. Not leaving the money in Kununurra, but sustaining their own community.
Then they dreamed of having their own gallery building. One that was built for Gija people, not intended originally for gardiya use and then adapted. One to showcase their artwork in their own country.
That dream came true last year, with an architect-designed building funded one-third from the sales of artworks by our artists.
In the past year, many accolades have come our way. Senior artist Shirley Purdie was the first Indigenous person to win the Blake Prize for Religious Art. She followed it up with the Needham Prize for Religious Art – another nonindigenous prize – and was highly commended at the Telstra NATSIAA in Darwin last month.
One of Warmun Art's founding members, Patrick Mung Mung here, is one of just 16 finalists in the Western Australian Premiers Award, to be judged in October.
Our artists, both senior and emerging, are represented in prestigious public and private collections throughout the world.
We held our first fully curated show in Singapore this year and were the subject of the feature exhibition for NAIDOC week, held at the Australian High Commission.
Two of our artists, Mabel Juli and Marika Patrick, are invited to Japan for ochre painting workshops in November.
Many people in this room have helped along the way, and we thank you.
A procession of coordinators and managers has brought unique skills, experience, knowledge and imagination to help these dreams come true. Anna and Johnno, Rudy and Carolynne, Megan and Eamonn – my comanager Roger Taylor and I have taken the baton from them to help take Warmun Art Centre to the next level.
Thank you for this acknowledgement. We are deeply honoured.