Yesterday at the cinema I was transported back to almost thirty years ago to when I worked at the experimental art foundation in Adelaide, South Australia where I met and worked with a remarkable group of people from Broome, Western Australia. I had gone to see the film Bran Nue Dae.
Ernie Dingo as Uncle Tadpole
The official web site tells the story - “Bran Nue Dae has a long and influential history in Australia: first as a collection of iconic songs, then as a stage musical that toured Australia in the early 1990’s charming audiences wherever it played.
Set in the summer of 1969, the story of Bran Nue Dae was inspired by the teenage experiences of writer and musician Jimmy Chi and the members of the band kuckles - Patrick Duttoo Bin Amat, Garry Gower, Michael Manolis Mavromatis and Stephen Pigram - who grew up in the tropical seaside port of Broome on Australia’s west coast….”
I was privileged to meet and work closely with the Broome Aboriginal Arts Group and Jimmy Chi when they were artists-in-residence at the E.A.F. in 1981. Members of the band ‘kuckles’ were concurrently studying at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music in Adelaide. Here, Jimmy and the band made the first recordings of the songs that have continued to be sung and performed for three decades now.
For me, the experience of working with the Broome people was a very positive one. And yesterday I felt happily moved by the film so I began looking around in my cupboards for remnants of those days. If you’re interested, you’ll have to click on the scans of articles here in order to read them. My apologies for the low tech..
note by David Kerr, eaf Director, in 'A Decade at the E.A.F. 1974-1984', edited by Stephanie Britton
my article in 'Art Network', issue 3/4, 1981, edited by Ross Wolfe
Here's to Jimmy Chi, Kuckles, The Pigram Brothers, Geoff Buchan, Jane Sindel, the EAF and the film director Rachel Perkins and the cast and crew of Bran Nue Dae!