Wiradjuri and Gamilaraay photographer, Marley Morgan, takes us to Garma Festival and shares her experiences capturing moments at the largest Indigenous gathering and celebration of Yolŋu life and culture.
This month saw the Yothu Yindi Foundation (YYF) host the country’s premier Indigenous event - Garma Festival. Garma saw over 2500 people flock to Gulkula in East Arnhem Land on Gumatj Country to observe art, song, dance and story-telling, generously shared by Yolŋu clans and families.
The theme for this year was Djambatj. Djawa Yunupingu, Chairman of YYF described djambatj as a moment of excellence and vision of perfection, and my experience at Garma certainly did not fall short of djambatj.
I was lucky enough to be invited to deliver photography workshops at the Youth Forum component of the festival. It was an honour to hold space with young mob from all over the country and be inspired by hearing their aspirations on what the future looks like to them. I was incredibly humbled by the natural abilities and creative talent I was exposed to when facilitating the workshops and found myself learning a thing or two from those young ones.
The most impactful event of the 4-day event was the evening buŋgul, or dance ceremony. Seeing the staunch, sacred and strong dance styles from Yolŋu clans and families, Badu Islander dancers from Zenadth Kes, and a special shared buŋgul between Gumatj mob and Abdi Karya, a Makassan artist highlighting the kinship ties from across the sea.
During the afternoons I had free time to explore and take in everything Garma had to offer from cultural workshops and speaking forums to live music. But the most memorable experience of the entire trip was being in the presence of the various clan groups all together celebrating how neat and deadly we are as a culture and people.