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Creation story wins indigenous art prize

03 March 2014

Jobie Managku at Mardbalk Arts Centre with his winning artwork. Jobie Managku at Mardbalk Arts Centre with his winning artwork.

WARRUWI artist Jobie Manakgu has vision of art as a means of passing on culture, learning and stories from one generation to the next. Jobie’s efforts were rewarded recently when his painting of a creation spirit won the ‘My Home, My Country’ art competition at Warruwi.

Judging in the Jobfind art comp took place on Tuesday, February 18 at the Mardbalk Arts Centre. The elegant winning work shows the elongated figure of the Creation Mother carrying dilly bags, which represent clan groups of the region.

Jobie, who has been carving and painting since a young age, said the artworks were a way of passing on culture and stories to a younger audience.
“I have to learn from the elders,” he said. “In future, your kids step up and you show them. At school, all the elders come and show us how to do painting.”

With a father from Warruwi and mother from Gunbalanya (Oenpelli), Jobie spends time painting at the Marbalk Arts Centre in Warruwi as well as Injalak Arts in Gunbalanya. He said the inspiration for the winning artwork came from rock art in his mother’s country.

“When I go there, I talk to the elders,” he said. “I saw this painting there on a rock at Oenpelli – it’s been there for years; it’s a sacred image. This one is the Creation Mother. When I do painting it’s about the stories, and also when I do painting, it’s dreaming. It could take two days, three days, or could be one day.”

Jobie, who has three children of his own, said he was pleased to receive the $500 first prize from Jobfind, who ran the competition. “I’m very happy, and proud, and my partner she is proud,” Jobie said.

Jobfind Service Coordinator Teresa Meadows said the artworks had generated a lot of cultural discussion amongst the elders at Warruwi. Roy Manirryang’s finely rendered painting of a Yawkyawk  spirit also received careful consideration, she said.

“The contest was held amongst RJCP Jobfind participants, who were asked to do artwork,” Ms Meadows said. “We had six entries and a great turnout on the day, with Traditional Owners, elders and leaders from the community, sand stakeholders from the Rangers, the store, HACC, the Arnhemland Progress Association, local police, the Mardbalk Arts Centre, and the West Arnhem Regional Council. Jobfind provided lunch and showed what participants have done. Each artwork has a story, and each story was told during the judging.”

She said the winning artwork would be published as the cover art for Jobfind’s Regional Action Plan, put on their website, and displayed in Canberra.

Stakeholders and judges at the Jobfind art competition 'My Home, My Country Stakeholders and judges at the Jobfind art competition 'My Home, My Country" at Warruwi. PHOTO: NATHAN McIVOR