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Yuendumu Doors exhibition launched in Ho Chi Minh City

The exhibition features 15 of the 30 doors originally painted at the Yuendumu community school in central Australia in the early 1980s. Elders of the Aboriginal Warlpiri people painted the doors with stories from their Dreaming – the Aboriginal belief system about the creation of the world. Each door is not only a masterpiece but also an invaluable repository of Warlpiri knowledge and history.

Yuendumu Doors exhibition launched in Ho Chi Minh City

Consul General Ms. Hooper meeting guests from the local creative industry during the opening

Guests admired and immersed in the Australian Indigenous art setting

Australia is home to the oldest continuing living culture in the world. Aboriginal peoples are known to have lived in Australia for at least 65,000 years. Among the Aboriginal communities living in Central Australia for many thousands of years, the Warlpiri people are one of the largest groups. For much of Warlpiri history, their Dreaming was drawn on the sand, and then erased by desert winds. Though these stories were passed down through generations, Warlpiri people had no sustainable way of preserving their unique art for future generations. In the early 1980s, Warlpiri people decided they needed a way to restore their ancestral tradition and cultural values for younger generations and share them with the world beyond the desert. To realize this mission, in 1984, a group of Warlpiri elders were invited to paint their Dreaming onto the classroom doors at Yuendumu community school so that the children would be wrapped in Warlpiri culture. Thirty doors were painted in total, with unique patterns demonstrating different Dreaming stories, teaching generations of Yuendumu children about their land, ancestry and culture. These paintings also marked the beginning of Warlpiri contemporary art, with the beauty of Aboriginal cultural art presented in a western art medium using bright color palettes.

Sarah Hooper, Australia’s Consul-General in Ho Chi Minh City, said: “It is a great pleasure to introduce the extraordinary Yuendumu Doors to audiences in Ho Chi Minh City. The doors are an important cultural and artistic collection in Australia. This exhibition is a rare opportunity for Vietnamese audiences to experience some of Australia’s extraordinary Indigenous culture.”

The exhibition coincides with Australia’s annual NAIDOC Week, which celebrates and recognizes the history, culture and achievements of Australia’s indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

After surviving the desert wind and sun for 12 years at Yuendumu school, the original doors are now conserved and displayed at The South Australian Museum. This international touring exhibition was developed by the South Australian Museum in partnership with the National Museum of Australia and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


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