Place Names Melville has been a journey of reconciliation and Noongar language revival produced by Community Arts Network (CAN) in partnership with Moodjar Consultancy, the Noongar community and the City of Melville.
Three areas within the City of Melville - Goolugatup, Willagee and Jenalup (Blackwall Reach) - were explored through a cultural mapping process and an interplay of mark making and collage artworks inspired by walks on country.
The exhibition Ngala Bidi Wongi Boodjar – Our Paths Talking Country was launched on the 29th of October 2022 and is the culmination of the first phase of Place Names Melville. The exhibition will remain open until 11 December 2022. Details and timing available through the Facebook event.
This catalogue captures the creative exploration of place by our Place Names Melville community participants.
Natural soundscapes and sensory videos
In a mentorship relationship between photographer and videographer Hugh Sando, Project Coordinator Pip Kelly and participants Christine Reich, Chelsey Thomson and Gerrard Shaw, natural soundscapes and sensory videos were recorded at each site. When displayed together, the seamless connection between video footage and collage works is profound. Words accompany the abstract artworks drawn from the lush Melville landscape, creating a beautiful representation of contemporised culture.
“Recording audio on Country opened it up more for me, I could really hear and feel the country. I also love sitting with other Elders I've only just met and meeting new people who bring a whole new life to what you know about language and places.” Christine Reich
Credit: Hugh Sando
Decoding and the Place Names Process
Professor Len Collard’s research shows us that Noongar placenames are a group of words collapsed into a sentence. The Place Names process uses the cards to break the words down and uncover the ancient meanings.
Noongar placenames were originally written down by non-Noongars and words were misheard and meanings misunderstood. This resulted in multiple interpretations and spellings.
The decoding process makes Noongar knowledge and language the first principle in cracking the ancient codes. Len refers to this process as a recolonialising practice because it places Noongar kaartadjin (knowledge, language and culture) as the authority. Historical documents written by wadjellas are secondary. Noongar Place Names empower Elders and community to share stories, histories, culture and kaartadjin with the wider non-Aboriginal community as a powerful act of reconciliation.
During this Place Names Melville project the decoding process is still underway. The ancient meanings of these placenames are starting to reveal themselves but further research and further uncovering of Noongar kaartadjin is required to reach a final consensus.
The following placenames have been identified during the first stage of the decoding process.
A series of 8 Digital Collages are the collaborative artwork of individual participants, layered and reworked in the creative engagement of Place Names Melville.
Referencing 3 place names in the Melville area- Goolagatup, Willagee and Jenalup - the digital collage combines individual responses to patterns, texture, rhythms and reflections found on country with layers of mark making, line drawings and paper collage.
The collaborative collage was a layered process, with participants using other participants' initial line and mark making using lead pencil, charcoal, pastel, charcoal and ink to create a paper collage. The idea was to dissolve an individualistic focus to a community value of place. Combining a collective energy of many artworks layered upon artworks to create these abstract sensory collages, reflecting communities strong connection to boodjar.
This collection of poetry captures the essence of place - a reflection of the community’s strong connection to boodjar.
Facilitator Nandi Chinna guided deep listening and word expressions about place names and in turn Noongar participants produced these word scapes.
CAN would like to acknowledge all Elders and Community Members involved in the project.
Adam Williams | Ashley Donaldson Jnr | Ashley Donaldson Snr | Betty Garlett| Billy Jack Spicer | Chelsey Thomson | Christine Reich | Deena Lazzan | Dot Henry | Dulcie Donaldson | Freda Ogilvie | Garry Garlett | Geraldine Metcalf | Dr Gerrard Shaw | Jim Hayden | Karen Jacobs | Kelvin Garlett | Kerry-Ann Winmar | Liam Nelson | Linley Williams | Liz Hayden | Mick McCarthy | Narelle Ogilvie | Sacha Ogilvie | Sharon Calgaret | Sheridan Jones | Tamara Ugle | Tova Calgaret | Trevor Walley | Vickie Zani
Creative Producer/Lead Artist
Natalie Scholtz is an African Persian British Australian visual artist. She is inspired by creative conversations around the relationship of self and society, action and response, culture, arts and change.
Natalie has had the pleasure of being part of CAN’s Place Names over the past 5 years, connecting with local Noongar Elders, community and a range of learning and talent from Langford, Albany, Katanning and now Fremantle.
Pip Kelly is a film-maker and creative producer from Perth, Western Australia. She has an academic background in Socio-cultural studies and Film Directing and professional experience in arts management, museums and galleries, community engagement, community cultural development and arts festivals.
Guided by her passion for storytelling, Pip has worked closely with communities in Australia and Cambodia, exploring themes of identity, belonging, memory, truth-telling, cultural practices, cultural objects, and contemporary art.
Pip's films have screened on Stan, ABC and SBS, at international festivals and have won Australian film awards.
Pip is the Producer for Place Names Melville which is a Noongar led language and creative art project reinvigorating cultural knowledge and understanding of significant Noongar places throughout the South West of Australia.
Pip loves to connect with nature and all the beautiful beaches that run along the Great Southern Region of WA.
Sandy is an arts practitioner who works across performance, puppetry and multimedia. She runs Sandpiper Productions, a company creating hybrid art collaborations and performances locally and nationally. She has been an artist in residence in Zambia, South Korea, Cocos and Christmas Island. She is driven by a passion to give voice to the unheard.
Sandy was involved in CAN’s Place Names Moora project, working with local Elders and community members to explore their stories, experiences and languages of Moora and surrounding areas.
Geri has worked with both Aboriginal community organisations, non-government organisations and government bodies. As the former chairperson of the Southern Aboriginal Corporation she gained experience working in Noongar communities to implement social justice and wellbeing projects. She worked as a project officer with South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council for several years and has been a part of the South West Native Title Settlement, the largest native title settlement in Australian history, which will affect an estimated 30,000 Noongar People 200,000 square kilometres in South West WA.
Moodjar Consultancy Director
Len Collard is a Whadjuk Nyungar Traditional Owner of the Perth metropolitan area and Professor at School of Indigenous Studies, University of Western Australia. Len’s ground breaking theoretical work and research around decoding Noongar Place Names of the Southwest of Australia has put Nyungar Cultural research on the local, national and international stages.
With a background in literature and communications, Len’s research has allowed the broadening of the understanding of the many unique characteristics of Australian Aboriginal people and contributes to the appreciation of Aboriginal culture and heritage of the Southwest Australia.
Spoken Word Facilitator
Nandi Chinna works as a research consultant, creativity facilitator, and poet based on unceded Aboriginal land in Boorloo (Perth), and Bunuba lands in Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia. Nandi’s artistic practice could best be described as being embedded in, and arising from, personal involvement in place and community. Her poetry has its genesis in a strong determination to craft creative works and poetry as a response to the ecologies and layers of history attached to particular places. Her poetry is committed to a multispecies polis which marries scientific fascination with transcendental awe.
Nandi had the privilege of working with CAN to facilitate the Rekindling Stories on Country, Bilya Kep Waangkiny poetry project with the Noongar communities of Northam, York, and Perth (2017-2019).
She is the author of three poetry books and two chap books, and has contributed to various other anthologies and collaborations. Her poetry collection The Future Keepers (Fremantle Press) was shortlisted for the Prime Ministers Literary Award in 2020.
Nandi was awarded the 2021 Western Australian Premiers Writing Fellowship.
Photographer and Videographer
Hugh is an award nominated Australian photographer specialising in both digital and film.
By employing his innate appreciation for the natural world and emotionally provocative imagery, he seeks expression through lifestyle, portrait and travel content.
Hugh’s meticulous application of composition and compelling narrative translate into candid and authentic moments that invoke a desire for exploration.