Djabugay: Nganydji bulmba maminga (we love and care for country)

Bama mara-nyiwul ngurral-na maying Queensland Museum MDO malim.(Six people from the Djabugay region have attended Queensland Museum MDO training in Kuranda to learn more about caring for cultural heritage collections).

“Gloved up” with rain forest sword: Russell Hobbler, Ezekiel Deshong, Jo Wills, Wilma Donahue, Dennis Hunter and Gavin Donahue at the end of the first workshop.
Image: Maria Grauner

Djabugay Aboriginal Corporations have a small collection of cultural objects. In 2019 they contacted the MDO program to find out how to catalogue and store them professionally. After successfully applying for a RADF grant from Mareeba Shire Council, the Corporation engaged Jo to run training sessions and purchase conservation materials.

Workshops were originally planned for March, but COVID 19 put everything on hold. In the interim, Jo undertook research into other collections to locate Djabugay cultural items. Thanks to Kate Wanchap from JCU and Sophie Price from MTQ for providing me with details. Cairns Museum holds a number of items, and Jo arranged for Djabugay Corporation CEO, Nicolas Mills, and Cultural Officer, Dennis Hunter, to meet Cairns Museum’s Collection Manager, Melanie Sorenson, and Manager, Suzanne Gibson. Melanie pulled out a range of artefacts and explained the process of caring for them in the museum, while Suzanne provided a brief overview of the museum displays.

As restrictions eased, workshop planning began. Two separate days of cataloguing and storage training were delivered at Nywarri Estate, just outside of Kuranda. For the first session, Jo created a cataloguing form, cataloguing kit and register to get started. Training involved object analysis and object identification, and ensuring that language names for objects were integrated into the work. The group also took digital images of objects and ensured items were numbered.

Participants practice cataloguing materials during the first workshop. Image: Jo Wills.

The second session continued with hands on cataloguing but also introduced preventative conservation and storage. The funding allowed us to purchase industry standard conservation materials and begin the process of housing the items appropriately. The group worked together to ensure they understood each of the steps required in cataloguing, including taking measurements and photographing the objects. Djabugay’s language dictionary has been included in the cataloguing kit as an essential reference for the cataloguing work. As they worked on objects, participants taught Jo the specific names and words for certain materials and items.

Cataloguing work will now continue for the rest of the collection. Plans to create a database for the information will also ensure it is accessible and preserved.

Thanks to Dennis Hunter for the Djabugay translation, and Nicolas Mills for the additional images.

“The Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and Mareeba Shire Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.”

Posted on 30 November 2020, in Jo's Diary, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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