The weavings in the image above are made by Alan Griffiths of Waringarri Aboriginal Arts. In the image below you can see video stills of people using these objects in their Joonba (song and dance cycle).
The long weavings that people wear on their shoulders signify star constellations. The small weavings that women hold at their hips and move from side to side signify the currents of a river in an important contemporary story in the Waringarri community.
The Waringarri dancers, like other dancers in the exhibition, use props and headdresses to represent different characters and objects in the stories they are telling. In a similar tradition to Italian theatre where face masks are used or in other theatrical forms where costume is used, the props of the performers tell the audience what is happening, which character is on stage and whether its a serious moment or a funny moment. In the Warringari Joonbas the masks with long ears and wide grins are for comic characters and the tall white hats are used to indicate the wise characters.
Have a look at the images of objects below. What are the materials the artists have used? Are they the kinds of materials you would expect to see in an exhibition of work from the Kimberley? What do you expect to see?
Some people think that if artists live in community or in remote areas they would only use traditional materials that are found in nature. These materials are certainly used but so are all sorts of materials that are available. Artists have always used what is close at hand, effective for what they are making and inexpensive. The materials you can see, wool, cardboard, sticky tape, bark, sticks, feathers are all widely available, inexpensive and make the kind of objects that the artists are intending to make.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
Remember that culture is not a static thing and a culture is not more authentic hundreds of years ago than it is now. All cultures change and evolve as their environment changes and contact with other cultures increases. The objects shown below are examples of traditional methods being complimented by contemporary materials.
Listen to Chris Griffiths from Waringarri Aboriginal Arts talk about the Joonbas and the objects on the Joonba Junba Juju video page