Photo: Panos Couros

From 2016 to 2109 I was employed by the DVC Indigenous Strategy and Services portfolio of the University of Sydney to live and work with the traditional Aboriginal Ngaanyatjarra community in Warburton WA, and to produce with them an Indigenous Knowledges Portal to be used by the University to enhance their teaching and to enlighten their pedagogy around how indigenous knowledges can be incorporated into conventional education systems.

The project was incredibly challenging. I worked with a group of Aboriginal elders, who were also artists, and they allowed me access over time to much of their culture and wisdom. The Warburton Arts Project has one of Australia’s (and probably the world’s) largest collection of Aboriginal Art owned by its own community. This astounding collection formed the basis of the portal, and the community allowed access to 125 paintings which, over time, they shared a lot of information about. The content of these paintings contained; stories (Tjukurrpa); descriptions of Country; bush food and a myriad of other things. These are not paintings as we understand them, but documents of culture and life.

The process of experiencing, living in and working with such an extraordinary community that was still so intrinsically connected to their vast history was not only humbling but also enlightened me in a way that is not describable in words.