On April 16th 2012 four Pormpuraaw artists Elliot Koonutta, Sid Bruce Short Joe, Romena Edwards, Christine Holroyd and their manager Paul Jakubowski traveled to Melbourne for a “Meet the Artist” event held at the our first out of state art exhibit. The exhibit was held at the Alcaston Gallery on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. It was the first time any of our artists had ever been to Melbourne and the biggest city they had ever experienced. The event took more than a year to plan and prepare for. Thank you Skytrans for your support and providing us with discounted tickets. The show included weavings, wood carvings, paintings and prints. The Pormpuraaw Art Centre has come a long way in the last few years. It has become recognized for having talented, motivated artists and selling inventive, quality work.
The trip was a real thought provoking, educational experience. On a normal day you would find our artists fishing in the river out in the hot sun and keeping a watchful eye out for crocs. “Then suddenly” they find themselves immersed in a huge concrete and steel multicultural city keeping an eye out for cars and trucks and not getting run over in the crosswalk. During the first day I could see expressions of confusion and being out of place on their faces. They were looking for their relatives, homes and pet dogs. They were out of their comfort zone and experiencing something new and exciting. Home sickness was kept in check by eating out at several fantastic restaurants. The people of Melbourne were incredibly nice and friendly to us. Everyone wanted to know where we came from who we were and all about our show.
While in Melbourne they visited the National collection of Aboriginal and western art. The artwork was overwhelming and inspiring. They visited the Natural History Museum and saw the skeleton of a blue whale and the remains of Far Lap the race horse. We even took an exciting first time ever tram ride to Luna Park. The waters of the bay smelled and tasted different then the waters of home. The fish living under the jetty looked similar yet different somehow connecting to their own country.
Pormpuraaw art work is an expression of community and culture and a bridge to the outside world. The experience of artists seeing their work on display in a beautiful gallery and meeting collectors for the first time is unforgettable. An experience that will hopefully inspire more exciting work. Collectors wanted to shake their hands and hear the culture stories behind the work. One collector was so emotional he was brought to tears.
After four days of exploring this urban environment everyone was ready to go home and be with family and friends and all things familiar. To live in a simpler life style and place called Pormpuraaw. All readers are invited to visit our centre meet artist and see their work.
Arictle & Photos courtesy of Paul Jakubowski
Pormpuraaw Art & Culture Centre