Djilpin Arts Arrives at Melbourne's Federation Square

Djilpin Arts Arrives at Melbourne's Federation Square

Djilpin Dancer Eric Malibirr -“Bunggul”, one of the traditional dancers performing at Federation Square.

Posted by Aboriginal Art Directory | 22.05.14

Dates: 22.05.14 : 23.05.14
Location: Federation Square, Melbourne

Walk with Us: Djilpin Arts, the Northern Territory’s globally recognised Aboriginal Corporation located at the remote Beswick (Wugularr) community on the south-west border of Arnhem Land, brings a rich and ancient tapestry of indigenous culture to Federation Square in Melbourne today, and continues until tomorrow, Friday, 23 May 2014.

The two-day festival showcases traditional song and dance, the first solo exhibition from innovative fibre artist Dorothy Bienyanwanga - New Works in Fibre and etchings, silk screens and Japanese woodblock limited edition fine art prints from North-East and West Arnhem Land artists - The Gapu Print Survey - Billabong Series, the world premiere of Kundirri, a documentary on the life and legacy of artist, musician and custodian, David Blanasi and contemporary performance from actor, singer and songwriter, Tom E Lewis.

All events are free however Kundirri and the Walk With Us Concerts have a limited capacity. Book by emailing to secure your seat.

Morning Star Pole Ceremony, 5pm Thursday 22 May
(Journey begins at Victorian College of Arts and ends at Federation Square)

The Morning Star Pole has been created on site with visiting Djilpin artists at the Victorian College of Arts and begins its ceremonial journey with the Djilpin Dancers in unison, singing and moving in accordance with the song and dance of their ancestors.

The procession makes its way down St Kilda Road to arrive at the No Vacancy Gallery in Federation Square where it is installed for the official opening of the Djilpin Arts Exhibition. It will remain on public display until Friday, then returned to the Victorian College of Arts and presented to the Wilin Centre for safe keeping and future display.

Sprouts of feathers and string adorn the Morning Star Pole which acknowledges Venus, the brightest star, and is a significant symbol of Aboriginal rituals, rarely seen outside of its spiritual home.

The indigenous materials were sourced from the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens’ 150 year-old Stringybark tree, bird feathers from Victoria, sugarbag wax from Beswick (Wugularr), string made from the Butt Butt tree in West Arnhem Land and natural earth pigments from Queensland.

Walk With Us Exhibition – Gapu Print Survey & New Works in Fibre, 6pm Thursday 22 May Official Opening
(Runs Tuesday 20 May to Sunday 1 June)

At 6pm, following the arrival of the Morning Star Pole, Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta Soprano, composer and educator, will open the Djilpin Arts exhibition, Walk With Us, at the No Vacancy Gallery in Federation Square.

This magnificent exhibition includes enduring and highly collectable print surveys and new works in fibre, which are offered for sale for the first time.

Gapu Print Survey – The Billabong Series
Djilpin artists collaborated with Basil Hall Editions over seven years to produce a mesmerising series of etchings, silk screens and Japanese woodblock limited edition fine art prints, inspired by Gapu (water) – essential to sustain all life forms.

Series I & II in The Billabong Series showcases etchings developed by young men new to the technique from the Rittharngu/Wagilak (North East Arnhem Land) and Mayali (West Arnhem Land) language groups. Each artist depicted the animals, fish and plants that feature in their daily lives and the result is a series of delightfully whimsical limited edition prints.

Series III & IV: The artists from Series I & II were joined by women working on intricate line drawings of animals, plants and birds from their regions.

Series V: Established and emerging artists were encouraged to experiment with a variety of print mediums and techniques in the ongoing collaboration and this series introduces the Japanese wood block style on Iwaki paper.

Seventeen original framed etching plates and wood blocks of select works from the Gapu Series are also on display, along with unframed limited edition prints and all are available for purchase.

New Works in Fibre
This is the first solo exhibition from innovative fibre artist Dorothy Bienuwanga who experiments with technique and form to create spectacular large and exquisitely precise small pieces, with consummate skill and versatility.

Dorothy was a contributing artist in Museum Victoria’s “Twined Together” project in 2003 and the recipient of the 2007 Barunga Festival Art Prize.

She is a tradition carrier who divides her time between Oenpelli, Katherine and Maningrida, remote areas intimately networked in traditional indigenous culture. Dorothy remains passionate about her practice and teaching her family the precious tradition of fibre art, as has been carried on for thousands of years.

Djilpin women weavers are internationally acknowledged for their dilly bags, baskets and fine fibre mats which are produced by harvesting the Top End’s Pandanus palm, drying the young shoots then dyeing with colours using indigenous plants and tree roots.

The three traditional weaving techniques include coiling for the baskets, twining to create conical baskets and contemporary sculptures and string from the Butt Butt tree, which is rolled on the thigh until it resembles twine. This is used in ceremony, string bags, binding objects, feather belts, head dresses and arm bands.

Kundirri – The Life & Legacy of David Blanasi Film Premiere – Friday 23 May
8pm-8.45pm Deakin Edge Amphitheatre, Federation Square (limited to 300 seats, book at

Sorcery, foul play, a frail old man lost in the bush or the architect of his own disappearance?

Missing since September 2001 and filmed a decade on, Kundirri reveals the exceptional story of David Blanasi’s life, country and culture through the breathtaking art of the Blanasi Collection housed at Beswick’s Ghunmarn Culture Centre, archival footage and the songs and stories shared by family and community members.

The Aboriginal elder, celebrated painter, international performer, didjeridu master and custodian of centuries of ancestral law, left an incredible legacy and an unsolved mystery, which has ignited superstition surrounding his disappearance.

Walk With Us Traditional and Contemporary Concerts – Friday 23 May
9pm – 11pm Djilpin Dancers, Song Men and Tom E. Lewis
Deakin Edge Amphitheatre, Federation Square (limited to 300 seats, book at

An evening of traditional dance, songs and stories from the Djilpin Dancers and Song men, where you’ll be immersed in the ancient and rich culture from the outback, sharing the same campfire and evening sky.

Actor, singer and songwriter, Tom E Lewis, follows the traditional performance with a showcase of contemporary music from his latest album, Beneath The Sun, which has had great reviews, including a comparison of his voice to, "the husky wisdom of Leonard Cohen" (Sydney Morning Herald).

Tom is also the Artistic Director of the Walking With Spirits Festival held annually at Beswick Falls (Malkgulumbu), where community members from all over Arnhem Land meet to re-enact the ancient art of corroboree with fire, music and imagery. He will guide you through these concerts events which have travelled from the bush to the city, in celebration of Djilpin Arts’ commitment to community.

About the Djilpin Arts Aboriginal Corporation
Established in 2002, Djilpin Arts Aboriginal Corporation is a not for profit organisation which operates from the Ghunmarn Cultural Centre in Beswick and the Katherine Gallery. Djilpin’s 100% indigenous membership represents approximately 80 people from Wugularr and other communities and the Rittharngu/Wagalak, Dalabon, Mialli, Mara, Jawoyn and Rembarrnga language groups. Working in country with kin and culture across generations, Djilpin Arts activities are rich in spirit, bringing healing to the community and linking traditional culture with modern enterprise.

Don’t miss Walk With Us at Federation Square from today, Thursday 22 to Friday 23 May 2014.

Share this: » » Digg it » reddit » Google » StumbleUpon » Technorati » Facebook

Contact Details


Djilpin Arts Arrives at Melbourne's Federation Square

Festival organiser and singer Tom E Lewis will perform his latest album, Beneath the Sun. The SMH compared his voice to, "the husky wisdom of Leonard Cohen".

Djilpin Arts Arrives at Melbourne's Federation Square

The festival will feature the first solo exhibition from innovative fibre artist Dorothy Bienyanwanga.


Further Research