On a cool Kambarang morning, preparations began for our celebratory community day where we would finally reveal our woven animal sculptures in the Cowaramup Community Garden. We invited Wardandi Elder Vivian Brockman-Webb and custodian Mitchella Hutchins, to help celebrate our year of creativity where we explored our connection to our natural environment.
For the previous month we had been working at a feverish pace with the greater community, local primary school and fellow local artist and weaver Cynamon Aeria to design and construct a series of woven animal sculptures that would live at the community garden. Evidently, excitement and enthusiasm was high when we initially planned our sculptures because the end result was a snake woven into the fence line, woven Masked Owl in flight, Western Ringtail Possum, large Banjo Frog, Kings Skink, Goanna, flight of dragonflies and a flock of little birds.
As the afternoon sun sat proudly high in the sky, families began to arrive for the cultural workshop. They were greeted by the long snake woven into the fence line near the entrance of the garden. Many hours and days were spent weaving and installing each intricate detail of the snake. Unveiling it was particularly satisfying and it was met with many sighs and exclamations of delight. Excited children streamed into the garden, each one on their own adventure to discover the animals created. Once everyone arrived, we were led by Mitchella around the garden to hear the stories and learn the Wardandi name of each animal sculpture. Mitchella had adults and children captivated in her sharing of Wardandi stories, wisdom and culture.
Meanwhile, Wardandi Matriarch Vivian Brockman-Webb and Land Artist Elaine Clocherty prepared the materials for the bora and ochres for painting on our skin. Vivian carefully poured out different coloured local sands to create our bora design. Whilst the locally sourced ochres were grinded by hand by Elaine. After the tour of the garden came to an end with each animal introduced, families were then invited to join the celebrations by helping create the patterns in the bora with the different sands. Whilst this was happening some families chose to carefully paint each others faces and arms with the earthy ochres.
Upon the completion of the bora Mitchella shared a story about a snake and the community were invited to dance like their chosen spirit animal. As everyone danced, Mitchella acted as the head of the snake gradually consuming each animal with each community member forming the long body of the snake, dancing and weaving around and through the garden and the bora. The garden was filled with smiles and laughter.
Following the cultural workshop, the garden was then open for the general public to view the sculptures. We also invited the children attending to make a clay animal of their choice to take home with them to remember the fun filled day they had celebrating the finale of the 2022 community art project Weaving Stories of Boodja.
However, this is not the end for Weaving Stories of Boodja. In June/July 2023 we will be hosting an art exhibition at the Margaret River Heart showcasing select artworks created during our year long community art project. So, we won’t be saying goodbye just yet. Please stay tuned as we hope to return in 2023 with more creative and cultural community workshops to further our connection to country… to boodja.
Thank you to Kendra Benson Photography for capturing the day from being the lens, and a huge thank you to all of our volunteers and community helpers that have helped to bring this project to life!