Looking Through Windows

Looking Through Windows was an oral history and multimedia project that explored the removal, dispossession and ‘protection’ of Aboriginal people in NSW. It was also a significant outcome of the major Australian Research Council Indigenous Discovery project, led by Professor John Maynard and the University of Newcastle, ‘The NSW Aboriginal Protection / Welfare Board 1883-1969: A History’.

Looking Through Windows ran for two years (2017-2018) and engaged the whole community from the New England region including the Dunghutti, Anaiwan, Gomeroi, Gumbaynggirr and Banbai and Northwest NSW, the Ngemba, Muruwari, Gamilaraay, Kurnu-Baakandji, Burrabindja as well as the descendants of the Wangkumara, Kooma and Kunja people from southwest QLD, and the Adnyamathanha from the Flinders Ranges in South Australia now residing in Bourke and Brewarrina.

Elders participated in Elders Gatherings and multimedia workshops (including oral history, filmmaking, photography, music, performance) where they shared stories about growing up and living on the Mission, reserves and fringe camps. The Gatherings provided a safe and creative space for remembering and sharing – ‘yarning’. This is a methodology developed and used by Dr Lorina Barker.

With permission, stories were recorded on audio and film and included in short documentaries and artworks. Taragara strongly supports Aboriginal people being in control of their own stories, images, voices and artworks and to control how their story is recorded, represented and in what media.

Creative outcomes from this project were presented as multimedia exhibitions and performances at the New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM, Armidale) 2017, Brewarrina Visitor Information and Exhibition Centre and 107 (Redfern, Sydney) 2018. Additional (material) creative outcomes include a CD and exhibition catalogue.

Looking Through Windows activities included:

  • Campbelltown workshops, March 2017
  • ‘Back to Brewarrina’ Elders Gathering and workshops, March 2017
  • ‘Back to Bourke’ Elders Gathering and workshops, May 2017
  • Armidale Elders Gathering and workshops, June 2017
  • Armidale Elders Gathering and workshops, October 2017
  • ‘Looking Through Windows’ Exhibition and ‘Trucked Off’ performance, NERAM Armidale, November 2017
  • ‘Looking Through Windows’ Exhibition and ‘Trucked Off’ performance, Bourke, April 2018
  • Elders Gathering and CD launch, University of New England, Armidale, October 2018
  • ‘Looking Through Windows’ Exhibition and ‘Trucked Off’ performance, ‘107’ Redfern, November 2018
  • Elders Gathering, Tin Humpy exhibition and music performance at University of New England, December 2018

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Looking Through Windows’ was supported through the Australian Government Department of Communication and the Arts, Indigenous Languages and Arts program and Create NSW Arts, Screen and Culture. It was managed in partnership with 2 Rivers Pty Ltd. ‘Looking Through Windows’ received additional financial and other support from across the community – including from the University of New England, University of Newcastle, the JNC Group and the NED Foundation. The project received financial and in- kind support from New England Regional Art Museum, Oorala Aboriginal Centre, Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place Armidale, Armajun Aboriginal Health Service, 2CuzFM Radio Station Bourke, ANTaR Armidale, Rotary Armidale, and Literacy for Life Foundation.

Special thanks to Social Ventures Media.