5 October, 2022 - This Christmas, BIG W is inviting customers to join in acknowledging Australia’s First Nations peoples and their continuing connections to land, waters and communities, with its Warnayaka Collection of Christmas Baubles.
Created in partnership with artists from the Warnayaka Art and Cultural Centre in Lajamanu, Northern Territory, the collection of eight limited-edition baubles depicts Jukurrpa, or Dreamtime, featuring Australian landscapes, flora and fauna. Royalties from sales of the baubles will directly benefit local artists in Lajamanu and their community.
Lajamanu is halfway between Alice Springs and Darwin with a population of around 900 Warlpiri people. The Warnayaka Art & Culture Centre has a long history in the community, set up to support the development of local artists’ careers, while also providing services
Jackson August, Manager Warnayaka Art & Culture Centre said: “We are delighted to partner with BIG W to bring the stories of our community to all Australians. This initiative is particularly special as it acknowledges art made in Lajamanu, featuring everyday artists in the community rather than well-known artists.
“The Warnayaka Collection of Christmas Baubles means so much to our entire community, not just the artists featured, but also their families who have passed down stories of the Dreamtime, while inspiring other artists to continue making their art and sharing their stories. Royalties from the partnership will prove particularly meaningful this Christmas, providing a bright spot to many households.”
BIG W’s Head of Commercial - Home & Everyday, Shane Carter said: “We are proud to be helping to shine a spotlight on the artwork of First Nations people and the remote community of Lajamanu this Christmas, through the Warnayaka Collection of Christmas Baubles.
“This partnership not only provides support to the remote community of Lajamanu, but helps to build awareness and appreciation for their art and the culture of the Warlpiri people. We encourage customers to join us in acknowledging the traditional owners of our land by bringing their stories into homes this Christmas.”
The baubles in the Warnayaka Collection include:
Bush Flower Dreaming – This dreaming is about the bush flowers that grow around Lajamanu. It tells the stories of flowers that grow at different times of the year and in special places. The women look for flowers in bloom so they know where to find fruit later in the season.
Seed & Sand Snakes Dreaming - This Dreaming belongs to Jakamarra, Jupurrurla, Nakamarra and Napurrurla people. The part of the dreaming depicted in this painting is about a sand snake (Warlpiri: Pirinpirapirinpira) that moves along through seeds that have fallen from grasses onto the ground. The dreaming belongs to Miyamiya country in the Tanami Desert.
Milkyway Dreaming - This Dreaming travels from the Top End to Purrpalalra in the Tanami, this story travels a long way. Men were coming from the Victoria River to the North West to Duck Ponds then on to Purrparlala to the South. While they were travelling, stars were falling from the sky. They were on their way to a young men's ceremony normally held around Christmas time. In this Dreaming the Witchetty Grub is also featured by the artist. This is a grub that eats the roots of trees and was always eaten by Warlpiri.
Seed Dreaming - This artwork is about the seeds kangaroos ate. People also ate this food. Patanjarngi (Slender Pigweed) is a plant that contains water. The flowers stand straight up and are broad. It has a fluffy flower which is red or grey. Animals like cows, camels, kangaroos and turkeys eat this flower. The animals eat this flower because it contains water inside. That’s how the bush native animals survive in the desert.
Kangaroo Food - This dreaming tells about the food kangaroos eat. The kangaroos hop around our country. They know all the trees, creeks and water holes and the best places for food.
Bush Mushroom Dreaming - This is a mushroom that Warlpiri people used to cook in the fire and eat. They are found in the Lake Mackay area. They grow in the soil and they are white in colour. Yapa knew which ones to eat.
Cave Dreaming – Kulurrngalinpa is a place southeast of Lajamanu. It is a sacred area in the north of the Tanami Desert.
Water Dreaming - This dreaming tells about rain dreaming. The rain travels around our country. This dream is about the wet season that gives new life to our country. Ngapa fill the creeks, waterholes and overflows onto all the land. This story belongs to Jangala, Nangala, Nampijinpa & Jampijinpa. Kurdungurlu (the person who checks and audits the story every time it is sung, danced or painted) is Japaljarri, Napaljarri, Napanangka & Japanangka.
The Warnayaka Collection of Christmas Baubles will also be available in Woolworths Supermarkets from mid-October. To purchase one of the baubles from the Warnayaka Collection head in store or online www.bigw.com.au/brands/warnayaka-collection.
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A selection of artists behind the Warnayaka Collection of Christmas Baubles have shared their stories and the personal impact of the partnership with BIG W.
Mercia Napurrurla Lewis - Seed Dreaming
Mercia Napurrurla Lewis learnt to paint from looking at the work of her grandmother and grandfather, who taught her about her Jukurrpa, or Dreamtime. Her Seed Dreaming bauble is inspired by the flowers around Lajamanu. By looking for the flowers, the people of Lajamanu know where to find fruit and seeds.
“I love all the flowers around Lajamanu, East Arnhem land and especially the desert,” Lewis says. “They all mean something different and are there in different seasons. Some are for medicine, fruit, and many other foods. This partnership makes me really happy and proud. I want the younger ones to paint so they can know their Jukurrpa too.”
Judy Napangardi Martin - Kangaroo Food
Judy Napangardi Martin is from Mina Mina. She is Warlpiri and lives in Lajamanu. She was taught to paint by her mother, Lorna Napurrla Fencer, a recognised artist from the Lajamanu community. Martin has travelled to Europe and Poland to meet other Indigenous people and teach Warlpiri culture.
“I can’t stop smiling when I think about my art being sold nationally for all Australians to experience,” Martin says. “When I found out about the Warnayaka Collection, I couldn’t wait to tell my family. They are very proud of me. I will be so happy to see a Christmas tree filled with these special baubles.”
Miranda Cook - Bush Flower Dreaming
Miranda Cook began painting in 2014 at the age of 23, after seeing her mother and father paint alongside other women in her community. The inspiration for her art comes from her father, who writes down the Jakurrpa in a book which she then brings to life in art on canvas, using dot and brush painting with acrylics. Her art was inspired by the colourful flowers that bloom around Lajamanu when it rains.
“When I first saw a sample of my art on a bauble, it made me smile and laugh with excitement, I was very proud,” Cook says. “My family has been waiting to see them at the shops. I am looking forward to travelling to Darwin for Christmas to see them in the BIG W at the Casuarina Shopping centre.”
Sheree Napanangka Anderson - Water Dreaming
Sheree Napanangka Anderson first began painting in her 20s, inspired by her mother’s practice of fine dots and designs painting the Ngapa dreaming, as well as her grandfather. As a child growing up in the Lajamanu community, cultural activities such as painting, song line, country visits and storytelling helped her to build her knowledge of the Warlpiri culture and identity.
“When I heard about the BIG W Warnayaka Christmas Collection, I was so shocked with excitement,” Anderson says. “Seeing my art featured in this collection has been a great experience for myself and my family, and reminds us of what we have achieved together.”
Artists retain copyright and ownership of their artwork.
About Warnayaka Art & Culture Centre
Lajamanu Community, formerly named Hooker Creek, is 580kms south west of Katherine, Northern Territory. Lajamanu is halfway between Alice Springs and Darwin to the west near the NT/WA border. The Warnayaka Art & Cultural Centre was first established in the 1980s. After closing and re-opening for various reasons over the next two decades, it was re-opened in 2007 by the elders. The most important thing expressed by members, is the need to preserve and pass on the cultural significance of Warlpiri, the culture of the people of Lajamanu, which encompasses not only art, but includes language, social structure, law and country. In doing so it is understood that excellence in art, prosperity from art sales, employment opportunities and preservation of pride in being Warlpiri will result. The art centre is a Warlpiri corporation.