Since its inception in 1998, Warmun Art Centre has been one of remote Australia’s most significant cultural institutions. It is owned and governed by Gija people with 100% of income returning to the community. The centre was established by founding members of the contemporary painting movement in Warmun such as Queenie McKenzie, Madigan Thomas, Hector Jandany, Lena Nyadbi, Betty Carrington and Patrick Mung Mung. These elders recognised and responded to the need for a community owned and controlled centre through which they could support, maintain and promote Gija art, thought, language and culture.
Today, a group of almost 60 established and emerging artists from Warmun carry on the artistic traditions begun by painters such as Rover Thomas and Queenie McKenzie, George Mung Mung, Jack Britten and Paddy Jaminji. The art centre has always had as a primary goal the conservation of culturally and socially significant objects and knowledge systems and has fostered the production of art as a powerful means of cultural continuity, transmission and innovation. Gija artists continue to hold a place among the nation’s leading contemporary practitioners. Their work is exhibited and held in important collections internationally and locally in the country’s flagship art institutions such as the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Australia and National Gallery of Victoria as well as the country’s top commercial galleries.
Image: Hector Jandany, Doomboony, 100 x 80 cm, natural ochre and pigment on canvas, 2005
A strong board of directors ensures stringent adherence to the relevant corporations legislation and principled Aboriginal-led governance. Outstanding leadership from its board members guarantees the organisation drives the priorities and agendas of Gija people and responds to community needs and strengths.
In 2011, a devastating flood destroyed much infrastructure at the art centre and damaged many of the objects held in Warmun’s nationally significant Community Collection. The past 2 years have been dedicated to rebuilding and strengthening the organisation. In addition to the well-established painting studio and gallery, Warmun Art Centre is embarking on an exciting new chapter through the development of an innovative new program in multi-platform digital media art practice and a living cultural archive with the launch of both the Media Lab at Warmun Art Centre and a ground-breaking intercultural tertiary education and training partnership with the University of Melbourne.