Ngiyanggarang: Beginning a conversation in the morning to awaken others

Swimming in the River
Swimming in the River, illustration from Murray Cod Story by Uncle Jimmy Ingram, illustrated by Bernard Sullivan, 2018

Links Gallery, Wagga Art Gallery
Saturday 28 July –  Sunday 16 September 2018
Official launch Saturday 11 August 1pm

 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this exhibition contains images and voices of people who have passed.

This exhibition is a celebration of stories featuring the perspectives of senior Elders from two prominent Wiradjuri families, the Grants and the Ingrams. Each with the unique perspective of their individual experience, Wiradjuri Elders, Uncle Jimmy Ingram, Aunty Flo Grant, Dr. Uncle Stan Grant Sr. AM, and Gamilaroi Elder Aunty Betty Grant (nee Cameron), present their unique stories in collaboration with illustrator and researcher Bernard Sullivan, in conjunction with Burambabili Gulbali and Charles Sturt University.

“Culture is personal.”
Uncle Jimmy Ingram and Aunty Flo Grant

Working from the idea that when we know our stories we know who we are, these Elders present an understanding of life that permeates the land we now know as the Riverina. The stories help us all, Aboriginal and non Aboriginal, comprehend the dynamic, transformed but unbroken continuity of the life of the Wiradjuri people who have lived here for millennia.

These newly documented stories take many forms. They may be traditional, talking about life before European settlement, they may document the crisis that occurred post settlement, and they may tell the stories of resilience and the persistence of cultural values through the twentieth century to the present.

Many of the stories describe how to be strong and live a good life, and have valuable life lessons about choosing the right way to live, connection to family and country, the example of the Elders, and following your dreams.

 

Uncle Jimmy Ingram created an extensive and unique body of work in the last two years of his life that he wanted to share as an example for others, so that they would be inspired to tell their stories and keep culture alive. A selection from these works in progress including books, future books, and songs, will be shown for the first time.

Murray Cod
Face to Face with a giant Murray Cod, illustration from Murray Cod Story by Uncle Jimmy Ingram, illustrated by Bernard Sullivan, 2018

Aunty Betty Grant has written a story about a Magic Geebung Bush, illustrations from this new book will be shown for the first time. Aunty Flo Grant will present a selection from her international travels as a young Wiradjuri woman and an interview about why it is important to have a Wiradjuri perspective of history. Growing up living by a channel bank in a dirt floor humpy, her father encouraged her to follow her dream of exploring the world like her hero Marco Polo.

 

Aunty Flo on Channel bank
Sitting by the channel bank at Yenda reading Marco Polo, illustration from Travel Stories by Aunty Flo Grant, illustrated by Bernard Sullivan, 2018

 

Dr Uncle Stan Grant Sr, presents his version of the story of Mirriyula, the Black Dog story, about making life choices, and what happens if you continue to go the wrong way.

Black Dog story
Mirriyula – Black Dog Story by Dr Uncle Stan Grant Sr, illustration by Bernard Sullivan, 2018

“How we work together is an important part of what we have to say.”

Bernard Sullivan

The collaborative process between the Elders and Bernard Sullivan is one of conversation, discussion and research through creative practice, in this case primarily writing and illustration. The Elders’ words inspire images and this in turn generates a new cycle of written stories. Mutual understanding is reached through the iterative investigative process, and, over many years, the friendships that emerge from sharing what is important.

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