• "We’re modern storytellers": Wayne Quilliam ahead of the trip to Guam. (Kate Eastoe)Source: Kate Eastoe
Photographer Wayne Quilliam is among a group of artists on a two-week trip to Guam, to share and celebrate their culture with thousands from across the Pacific.
Kate Eastoe

19 May 2016 - 7:56 PM  UPDATED 19 May 2016 - 7:56 PM

Fifty-nine Indigenous delegates from Australia and the Torres Strait Islands are flying to the Micronesian island to take part in the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts.

Quilliam is joining the group both as the official photographer and as an exhibiting artist, and is looking forward to sharing his passion for photography with other Indigenous groups.  

He says that the linchpin of what will make an amazing two weeks is the excitement of the mob he is joining to share their culture with the world.

As well as mentoring aspiring photographers in  Guam, Quilliam will be exhibiting a collection of his photos of Indigenous peoples from all over the world, as well as a selection of his images from the last festival in 2012.

"I think what some of these young ones will pick up now when they hang around with me, is they’ll get the whole essence of what it is to be a storyteller. And that’s all we are these days, we’re modern storytellers."

The festival is the Pacific’s largest regional cultural gathering, welcoming 2500 guest artists this year to celebrate Indigenous cultures and safeguarding traditional practices for future generations. 

Guam will host 27 Pacific Island countries and territories during the two-week event with workshops, performances and exhibitions.

At Thursday's presentation of the Australian program, delegates and guests were treated to a special preview performance by the Bardi Dancers, a traditional Aboriginal dance group from Western Australia.

The group, a mix of elders and future leaders of the Bardi nation, perform dances with totems, telling the stories of their salt-water people’s culture and hunting.   

Traditional Bardi Jawi owner, Frank Davey, is part of the group. He says that many of their dances come from the dreams of his uncle.  They tell the story of a grandfather who went turtle hunting and never returned after drifting out to sea and losing his way.  Frank says that the festival plays an important part in making sure the culture of their people does not die.

"Passing the culture to our young people is very important to us. We have our Aboriginal practices which we perform, and they have been passed on through the generations."

Their favourite dance is the last dance of the show, 'the spirit dance', which the group love to perform, knowing that the comical moves make everyone happy who sees them.

The delegates were bid farewell by the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who praised the exceptional artists for their work in showcasing the world’s oldest living culture.

The delegation includes the following artists and groups:

  • Artists of Ampilatwatja
  • Bardi Dancers
  • Bianca Beetson
  • Delvene Cockatoo-Collins
  • Digi Youth Arts
  • Gina Williams
  • Injalak Arts
  • Jimblah
  • Mau Power
  • Naygayiw Gigi Indigenous Corporation
  • Ngardang Girri Kalat Mimini (Mother, Aunty, Sister, Woman)
  • Buku-Larrnggay mulka
  • Sharing Stories Foundation
  •  Wayne Quilliam