WARMUN ART CENTER (East Kimberley)
Warmun Art Center is one of the largest and most significant cultural institutions in northern Western Australia. The center represents outstanding senior and emerging Gija contemporary artists.
Established in 1998 and wholly owned by Warmun artists, Warmun Art Center is a not for profit Aboriginal Corporation. 100% of income from sales is returned to Warmun artists and the community. Warmun Art Centrer operates an artists’ Studio and Gallery that is owned and governed by Gija artists. Because of this, buyers can be assured of ethical sales. Warmun Art Center's architect-designed exhibition space opened in 2007.
Gija Country covers a vast area in the spectacular East Kimberley region of Western Australia. Warmun Art Centre Gallery is inside Warmun Community, halfway between Halls Creek and Kununurra, just off the Great Northern Highway.
The Land & People
The lived experience of Gija people since the late 1870s has been characterised by radical, often violent change as well as by extraordinarily powerful and resilient continuities carried through deep time. Colonisation; political and economic change; and the effects of natural disasters have resulted in ruptures and forced displacements that have wrought significant transformations in the fabric of Gija society and culture.
Throughout and despite these upheavals Gija people have sustained practices, beliefs and world views inherited from their ancestors and embedded in the country they have lived in for an immeasurable period of time. Their ‘country’ is inseparable from their identity as people. Contemporary expressions of Gija culture embody robust and dynamic dialogues between processes of cultural maintenance, knowledge transference, innovation and experimentation.
The concept of Ngarranggarni is an expansive and complex one that defies simple definition or translation. It is common to many language groups in the Kimberley region and refers to “The time when the landscape took its present form and the rules for living came into being”.
(Ngarranggarni is commonly translated into English as, the Dreaming, however this is wholly inadequate except at the most basic level in terms of locating Indigenous conceptualization of identity in popular non-Indigenous Australian mythology).
Much contemporary work by Warmun artists concerns sites formed by the actions of spirit beings or the human ancestors - life forms that continue now to live among us all as animals and plants.
Many Ngarranggarni places were created as these agents who metamorphosed into or shaped hills, rocks, rivers, springs and waterholes. As well, the Ngarranggarni is a continuum which provides a complex framework that continues to encode, nourish and maintain Gija laws and conceptions of social organisation, trade and exchange, kinship relations and family ties, custodianship of country and the practice of song, dance, spirituality, art, language and philosophy.