Anindilyakwa Cultural Item Return and on-Country Celebration
21 November 2023
Umbakumba Art Centre | Groote Eylandt NT
After three years of discussions, on-Country consultations, and a long trip from Groote Eylandt to the United Kingdom and back, the 174 Anindikyakwa cultural items that were held in the Manchester Museum collection for over fifty years have finally returned home.
On the 21st of November, the community gathered on the beach in front of the Umbakumba Art Centre to celebrate the return of these significant items. The location represented a fitting close to a journey as the Umbakumba Art Centre is Fred Grey’s original home and here Peter Worsley lived as a guest when he collected the items that would be sent to Manchester Museum.
Art centre staff and artists greeted the items ahead of the ceremony, opening crates with Indigenous Perspectives Curator Dr Alex Alberda from Manchester Museum. The original Dadikwakwa-kwa (doll shells) were located early on to the artists’ delight and as were artworks belonging to specific family members, such as Elvis Bara’s father’s infamous “Boat Bark”.
The artists selected a suite of works to be displayed on the beach for community to view during the ceremony. Speeches were kept to a minimum in preference for singing, dancing and good food, the celebration was a huge success.
"It was a very special day for us, for the Anindilyakwa people. We are celebrating. It's been a long time since the artefacts have been away and the people are proud to come and see them. We are happy because our artefacts came back here, to where they belong,"
- Danjibana Noeleen Lalara, Lead Art and Culture Officer
The unrestricted returned items will be accessioned into the Anindilyakwa Community Collection and cared for by Anindilyakwa Arts.