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Top snapper in a ‘journey of laughter and inclusiveness’

The remote Aboriginal community of Yarralin in the Northern Territory is sharing its story of land rights and self-determination with the world through the photographs of top Aboriginal photographer Wayne Quilliam.

Quilliam visited the community, 382kms south-west of Katherine, in August to photograph community members for a special Our Place 2017 Yarralin calendar.

“Capturing the essence of community, that evokes a passionate response, is more intuitive than visual,” Quilliam said.

By watching, listening and conversing with the Yarralin community the photographs took on a life of their own, as the camera became a tool on this incredible journey of laughter and inclusiveness.

“The old Uncles sitting at the front of the community store gave us permission and encouraged us to photograph everyone as the young kids skipped around our feet yelling “phodo, phodo, phodo”.

“Parents gathered their children down by the Billabong and Stockyard for family photos as young girls strutted down the main street wanting to be photographed, but not really.

“This series of work was to evoke a response, to visualise the circular relationship between people and country, a country that empowers people and people that look after country.”

With a career spanning more than two decades, Quilliam is regarded as one of Australia’s most respected photographers for his work in Indigenous and international affairs.

He has won human rights and Walkley awards and was the 2009 NAIDOC Indigenous artist of the year.

The Yarralin calendar for 2017 celebrates the return of land ownership four decades after the Ngaringman people walked off the Victoria Downs pastoral station for equal wages and better working conditions and hoping to reclaim their land.

They walked to Wattie Creek more than 160 kilometres away to join the Gurindji people whose 1966 Wave Hill walk-off became an enduring symbol of the land rights movement.

On June 14 this year more than 50,000 hectares of land was finally handed back and is now under Aboriginal ownership.

Quilliam sought to capture the connection to place through the faces of the community in his photographs.

The Yarralin calendar has been produced for the last three years by Enterprise Learning Projects and profits are reinvested back into the community.

It marks all the standard Australian Holidays and significant Aboriginal calendar dates and timelines the history of the land hand-over.

Pre-orders can be made at www.gofundme.com/yarralincommunity

Wendy Caccetta

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