Dr Samantha Disbray
The project Ankkinyi Apparr, Ankkinyi Mangurr brings together old stories, language and art.
In 1966 a linguist, Prithvindra Chakravarti, visited the Warumungu Manu.
He carried a reel to reel recorder in a suitcase and recorded our Apparr (language) and Winkarra (dreaming, stories and law).
The voices of our old people were inscribed on tape, our stories kept safe. But it took a long time to hear them again.
Once we did, we knew we had something important back and something precious to share. We retrieved the tapes in 2014 from the archives at the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and shared the digital recordings with families. Together we listened to the recordings. They bring back memories and return forgotten stories, forgotten language.
The stories were written down and translated so that the younger people were able to understand and learn.
Seven accomplished artists of Tennant Creek (the Tartukula Artists from Barkly Regional Arts) listened to the recordings in a workshop in 2018. They remembered old people, old stories, places and old knowledge. Then in a series of workshops, using paints and canvas, they have set them down, like Mangurr. They have painted Winkarra – creation stories and gruesome stories of exploding grandmothers and flesh-eating monsters. They have painted traditional healers removing stones and stars from the bodies of their patients.
They have painted contact stories about the coming of whitefellas and construction of the Telegraph line, camels hauling wolfram and scenes of life on stations.
In October 2019, the works, stories and some video productions from the project were exhibited at the State Library of South Australia, as part of the Tarnanthi Exhibition.
On Thursday evening Nyinkka Nyunyu celebrated the return of the exhibition to Warumungu lands, with several of the artists coming along and a women’s dance performance for the many who chose to attend.
The exhibition is curated by Sandra Morrison Nangali, whose grandfathers were recorded telling stories of country and traditional life, Rosemary Plummer Narrurlu, whose father told many Dreamtime stories, Ronald Morrison, whose family were also recorded, and Samantha Disbray, linguist from the Australian National University and the University of Queensland.
This article appeared in the Tennant & District Times, 19 March 2021.