Gumbaynggirr Culture Will Weave Through Yarrila Place

Work is moving forward on key elements of the exhibits and the fabric of the Yarrila Place building that will showcase, celebrate and pay respect to the deep history, culture and thriving contemporary life of the Gumbaynggirr community.

“Since the beginning of this whole project, community consultation and stakeholder engagement has made very clear that there is strong and widespread community support for the integration of Gumbaynggirr language and culture throughout the building. Yarrila is a Gumbaynggirr word that means ‘illuminate/brighten/light up/illustrate’,” said Jo Besley, Gallery and Museum Curator.

In response, and in consultation with the Gumbaynggirr community, several key projects have been developed to ensure not just cultural recognition, but also Gumbaynggirr ownership, of this important new community facility. They are:

  • The Track, Gumbaynggirr wayfinding and art trail;
  • A Welcome to Country in the new Yarrila Arts and Museum (YAM); and
  • ‘Yaam Gumbaynggirr Jagun: Here is Gumbaynggirr Country’ art exhibition to open YAM.

Council has contracted specialist facilitators to assist in delivering each of these projects, including BVN architects, Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance and Zakpage.

The Track is a way-finding and architectural element of the building devised by Kaurareg and Meriam architect Kevin O’Brien of BVN architects, in collaboration with the Gumbaynggirr community. It will take people on a journey through Gumbaynggirr Country as they move through the building from the ground floor to the roof terrace.

Around 20 locations in Gumbaynggirr Country are referenced, determined by the traditional knowledge-holders from the six clan groups – Bagawa, Garby, Garlambirla, Yurrunga, Ngambaga and Gambalamam. Six artworks by Gumbaynggirr artists are being commissioned to respond to place names from each clan and will be located across three floors of the building, alongside The Track. Saltwater Freshwater Arts Alliance (SWFW) with the National Aboriginal Design Agency (NADA) have been engaged by Council to commission the artworks via an Expression of Interest.

In addition, a digital ‘Welcome to Country’ will be front and centre of the new YAM. This permanent exhibit will use audio-visual presentation to welcome visitors to land, sea and sky country. Local creative agency Zakpage has been contracted together with Thylacine interpretive design studio to work collaboratively with the Gumbaynggirr community to deliver the ‘Welcome to Country’.

“At every stage of the production – from the writing process through to the final edit – Zakpage will co-create with community and will engage a Gumbaynggirr producer to assist with the consultation and casting of talent to appear in the film,” added Ms Besley.

“Council has also secured funding from Create NSW to commission Gumbaynggirr artists, ranging from emerging to established, to create new artworks for an exhibition to be curated by a First Nations curator. The exhibition will be one of a suite of three new exhibitions that will open YAM and the artworks will become part of the Gallery’s collection.”

There will be ongoing opportunities for participation by Gumbaynggirr artists and community members in all three projects.