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Message Stick – Scotty Martin, Rodeo Boy, Don’t Say Sorry (2005)

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Wandjina education content clip 2

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

Scotty Martin shows us rock paintings of Wandjina, the ancestor who – in Scotty’s culture – is the being who created the world, giving Aborigines culture and law. Or, as Scotty puts it, 'the boss’.

Curator’s notes

Elegantly shot, with a sparse but effective soundtrack, this sequence captures Scotty Martin’s authority and expertise. There is a great shot in the middle of the clip where, as Martin is talking about the importance of the Wandjina, the hand-held camera cranes down so the painting of the Wandjina rises up behind the figure of Martin, arms outstretched in a powerful pose.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows Nyalgodi Scotty Martin, an Indigenous songman, providing an explanation of rock art depicting Wandjina in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The camera pans across the rock face to show the figures and images depicted in red ochre pigments. Martin points out the images and explains their significance to Aboriginal law, culture and language. The sound of electronic music chords accompany film of Martin as he walks to another location where he shows an elongated figure painted on the rock face and describes details shown on the image.

Educational value points

  • The clip shows Indigenous people’s continuing connection with and pride in their ancient rock art. As Martin explains, the paintings represent Aboriginal heritage and are a continuing source of identity. Traditionally, the sacred nature of Wandjina pictures meant they were not shown to people outside the community. Today some Aboriginal custodians wish to share their knowledge of rock art to ensure non-Aboriginal people understand its importance and value.
  • The clip shows images of Wandjina, who are powerful ancestor beings sacred to the Worrorra, Ngarinyin and Wunambal peoples of the Kimberley and who have responsibility for creating the people and the land and for ensuring the recurrence of rains and the reproduction of food species. These beings appear in a range of forms and shapes.
  • Nyalgodi Scotty Martin (c1940s), a Ngarinyin songman and one of the most renowned composers of the Kimberley region, is featured in the clip. Born in the north Kimberley in the 1940s, he is a custodian of the law and cultural heritage of the Wandjina. For 30 years he has composed Junbas, public dance songs, that are conveyed to him in dreams. He has recorded his songs to preserve them and pass them on to future generations.
  • Cave paintings of the Kimberley region in WA, part of a rich repository of rock art, are seen in the clip. Aboriginal rock art is part of a continuing tradition, with other examples to be found across the whole continent of Australia. Some of the oldest are in the Kimberley where the visually striking Wandjina figures and Gwion Gwion (Bradshaw) figures are found. Explorer Joseph Bradshaw first publicised Kimberley rock art in 1892.
  • The paintings shown in the clip reveal the use of mineral pigments. Pigment rock is crushed to a powder and mixed with water to form a paste. Different colour pigments such as white, black, yellow and orange could have been used originally in these paintings, but haematite from an iron-rich rock used for red pigment is the one that lasts longest. Over time it penetrates and bonds with the rock surface. Other pigments are more vulnerable to weather damage.
  • The film draws attention to the typical location of rock paintings. The majority are made in shelters where they are protected from the weather. These shelters may be caves or rock surfaces protected by an overhang. Locations providing an abundance of rock formations and natural pigments were favoured by Indigenous people as sites for rock art.

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This clip is available for download for the limited purpose of criticism and review in an educational context. You must obtain permission from editorial@aso.gov.au for all other purposes for use of this material.

Terms & Conditions

australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described here and elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions. ALL rights are reserved.

You must read and agree to the following terms and conditions before downloading this clip:

When you access ABC materials on australianscreen you agree that:

  1. You may download this clip to assist your information, criticism and review purposes in conjunction with viewing this website only;
  2. Downloading this clip for purposes other than criticism and review is Prohibited;
  3. Downloading for purposes other than non-commercial educational uses is Prohibited;
  4. Downloading this clip in association with any commercial purpose is Prohibited;

The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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