Artwork auction aims to fund music lessons for Aboriginal children

April 29, 2021 BY

Gordon Stammers and Mejavo's Cafe owner Joel Kirby. Photo: GEORGIA HOLLOWAY

A TORQUAY local is using his unique Aboriginal Dreamtime collection to raise money for a kids’ music program in Australia’s most remote community.

Gordon Stammers spent 13 years working as a child and adolescent therapist throughout central Australia where he collected unique pieces of art on his travels.

“I had a lot of pictures and I thought it is a bit silly them sitting in my garage, I may as well auction them off and raise money for a community I was associated with and care for,” he said.

“My last community was in Tjuntjuntjara (pronounced Joon-Joon-Jara), they live very traditionally but they love music.”

The kids music program located in the small village 700 km east of Kalgoorlie is made up Spinifex People who often receive music lessons from people brought into the community.

Mr Stammers said Tjuntjuntjara is very protected by the Paupiyala Tjarutja Aboriginal Corporation, with the community made up of 200 First Nations people and outsiders unable to enter without permission.

The Spinifex People are among a number of Pitjantjatjara tribes that were removed from their homelands in the 1950s and 1960s due to nuclear weapon testing at Maralinga.

“It is a wonderful community and they taught me so much about life,” he said.

The auction is currently underway with the artwork on display at Mejavo’s Cafe in Torquay.

“I was walking past the bare wall for a while and I decided to ask if I could hang up my paintings for auction and Joel thought it would be a terrific idea,” he said.

“I have put a lot of pictures on the wall with information about where they have come from and a lot of people are very enthusiastic about them.”

Among the pieces up for auction is a traditional painting of the Finke River which is the world’s oldest river, currently dry unless in rare flooding events.

Aboriginal legend believes the Finke was formed when the Rainbow Serpent moved north from Lake Eyre.

Mr Stammers said the images seen in each painting have been passed from ancestors for thousands of years, with only those entrusted to tell the story able to paint them.

“They represent various Dreaming stories that Aboriginal people traditionally use to symbolise and explain their world,” he said

“The Dreaming refers to all that is known and all that is understood, it is the way Aboriginal people explain life and how their world came into being.

“It is central to the existence of traditional Aboriginal people, their lifestyle and their culture, it determines their values, beliefs and their relationship with every living creature and every feature of the landscape.”

The auction will run until May 31 when the highest bid from each piece will be donated to the Corporation and then dispensed to the local music program.

Bids will be recorded in a book placed near the front desk of Mejavo’s Cafe at 15 Bristol Road, Torquay.