Remembering the future

Friday, 1 August 2014 (All day)

Warlpiri life through the prism of drawing

By Melinda Hinkson
Published by Aboriginal Studies Press, August 2014 rrp $49.95

‘This landmark book breaks new ground in exploring Aboriginal visual culture and will serve as an important touchstone in years to come.’ Dr Jane Lydon
Remembering the future cover
Remembering the future cover

In Remembering the Future Dr Melinda Hinkson rewrites our perceptions of when the Aboriginal art movement began. Her research shows that the drawings in this book predate Papunya paintings by two decades.

What can a collection of drawings reveal about the lives of its makers? This groundbreaking book explores the interplay between pictures, stories and post-colonial experience in Aboriginal Australia. Crayon drawings on paper collected by anthropologists provide an illuminating prism through which to explore how Warlpiri people of Central Australia have seen their place in the world and been seen by others across a period of monumental upheaval.

In engaging and lucid style Remembering the Future tracks the return to Warlpiri communities of an important collection of drawings six decades after they were made. The central story explores contemporary Warlpiri responses and the wide-ranging enquiries they trigger. Journeys to places, discussions with many people and archival research help build a compelling account of the colonial and contemporary circumstances of Warlpiri lives.

Driven by speculative enquiry, Remembering the Future is as much concerned with beguiling questions that remain unanswered and the limits of scholarship, as it is with what truths drawings might speak. Through these pictorial encounters substantial and fresh insights are generated into the crucial place of images in relationships between Warlpiri people and others. The result is a book that makes a significant contribution to the anthropology and history of Central Australia, as well as the wider emergent field of visual studies.

Melinda Hinkson is a social anthropologist with wide-ranging interests in anthropology and visual culture. Since the mid-1990s she has worked with Warlpiri people in central Australia on various forms of visual production and mediation. She has published widely on the mediated relationships between Warlpiri and wider Australia, the history of Australian anthropology and the politics of knowledge production. Currently a senior lecturer in anthropology and Visual Culture Research at the Australian National University, from mid-2014 Melinda embarks on a four-year Australian Research Council Future Fellowship.

An exhibition that complements the book, ‘Warlpiri Drawings: Remembering the Future’, opens at the National Museum of Australia on 14 August.

Media enquiries

To arrange an interview with Melinda Hinkson, please call Olivia at DMCPRMEDIA

P: 02 9550 9207

Last reviewed: 17 Jul 2015