Miḏawarr | Harvest: The art of Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda and John Wolseley now open at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Leading artists unite for a cross-cultural celebration of food plants.
Melbourne Museum has warmly welcomed Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda and John Wolseley's exhibition Miḏawarr | Harvest to Bunjilaka Aboriginal Culture Centre. Be immersed in a vast Arnhem Land floodplain and lose yourself in a forest of bark paintings, in this ambitious and beautiful cross-cultural collaboration.
Miḏawarr | Harvest: The Art of Mulkun Wirrpanda and John Wolseley, is the culmination of an extraordinary friendship between two of Australia's most distinguished senior artists; renowned landscape artist John Wolseley and the great Yolŋu artist, Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda. The exhibition celebrates the artist's shared passion for traditional Yolŋu (north-eastern Arnhem Land) plant use.
Miḏawarr | Harvest features a specially-commissioned vast panoramic scroll painting of a floodplain (10m x 2.1m) by Wolseley, complementing 60 paintings and memorial poles by Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda, showcasing intricately detailed Yolŋu plants. The works are enhanced by soundscape and immersive multimedia experiences throughout the space.
In 2009, Mulkuṉ adopted Wolseley as her wawa (brother) and in the following years they harvested, painted and illustrated over 40 species of edible plants. The resulting exhibition is best described as a kind of three-dimensional rendering of north-east Arnhem Land flora. Miḏawarr means 'harvest' in the Yolηu matha (language); it is the season when rich plant life on Yolηu country is ready to be collected and prepared. The exhibition inspires viewers to think about the way we use, connect, value and understand our environment.
Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda is passionate about passing on the important knowledge of these plants to a younger generation, to counteract their dependence on junk food. Wolseley’s immersive landscape portrays a distant floodplain and features the same plants and trees which Mulkuṉ has painted.
The following video contains names and images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It was created by Mulkuṉ's grandson, Ishmael Marika, and other members of the Mulka Project, a production company and digital archive at Yirrkala aiming to sustain and protect Yolŋu cultural knowledge. Footage of John Wolseley in his studio by Creative Cowboy Films.
Also currently on show at Bunjilaka is Silent Witness: A Window to the Past. This exhibition, now open for viewing in the Birrarung Gallery, complements Midawarr/Harvest perfectly. Silent Witness tells the stories of the People and their Country through large-scale photographic portraiture of scar trees photographed by Gunditjmara Elder, Jim Berg. The exhibition also has a powerful soundscape created collaboratively with Melbourne composer Martin Friedel.
Miḏawarr | Harvest: The Art of Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda and John Wolseley
Open now at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Melbourne Museum
11 Nicholson Street, Carlton
Free with museum entry
Miḏawarr | Harvest is a touring exhibition developed by the National Museum of Australia in partnership with Mulkuṉ Wirrpanda and John Wolseley.