Art, Culture, Country

Partnering with remote Indigenous Art Centres to deliver a landmark digital project that empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to create and share unique arts and cultural experiences with the world.


Art, Culture, Country

Partnering with remote Indigenous Art Centres to deliver a landmark digital project that empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists to create and share unique arts and cultural experiences with the world.

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Bula’bula Digital Archiving Project

by Bula'bula Arts

David Malangi, courtesy of Bula'Bula Arts

The art centre’s mission is simple: to support and celebrate Indigenous artists and their communities through arts and culture. In many remote communities, the art centre is a thriving hub of activity where generations of artists and their families have gathered to share stories through visual means.

You can imagine, then, that documenting decades of community life may result in a fairly substantial archive, including everything from the local footy game and bush polling station to artists painting and weaving among family, as well as exhibition openings, performances in Sydney, and extensive TV specials.

It wasn’t until an unexpected visit to the Garma Festival last year that a yarn between friends resulted in this massive project coming to fruition. The recorded history of Ramingining can finally be digitised and shared with its people.

Clara Wubukwubuk weaving a basket for the Olympic Games.
Clara Wubukwubuk.

Although incorporated in 1990, our collection dates back over 40 years and includes many audio-visual formats held by the community, including paper materials, discs, slides, floppy disks, printed photographs, posters, letters, and other ephemeral items. These archival materials contain images and written histories of the Ramingining Community and its surrounding areas. It is remarkable that such materials have survived, considering there was a cyclone in 2015 (Cyclone Lam) that caused major damage to the community. These materials are constantly at risk due to the harsh tropical weather conditions, such as humidity. The materials are currently located in boxes in an air-conditioned room where constant power outages occur.

In March 2024, Rebecca Barnott-Clement, Digital Preservation Analyst, and Coby Edgar, First Nations Curator, spent three weeks in Ramingining to prioritise and initiate the digitalisation process and conducted a DPC RAM assessment for the collection. During Bec’s assessment, we found many items already impacted by mould and a high level of deterioration.

Bec and Coby hit the ground running, and it wasn’t long before artists and their families were passing around laptops and looking over Bec’s shoulder as she processed thousands of photos and videos. Marcia, a new arts worker, got involved and learned the skill of scanning (and perusing) old slides, assisting Bec in the digitisation process.

Neville Nanyjawuy.

Uncovering and digitising these lost treasures has been a gift to the Ramingining community, reuniting elders with images of their younger selves, hearing the voices of relatives long past, and showing the young ones how the old people lived. The project, so far only halfway through its pilot stage, culminated in an afternoon spent in the Community Rec Hall, where the community gathered for a slide night, complete with microwave popcorn and free posters.

Ramingining might be a small community, but recovering its archives has revealed the immense significance of its legacy. 

Bula’bula would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Bec and Coby who enacted the archiving, and Wales Family Foundation, the Digital Preservation Society, Agency Projects, the Gordon Darling Foundation, and the Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material for generously supporting the archiving process.

A Project by Agency

UPLANDS is an immersive digital project that has been designed to celebrate Indigenous Art Centres and share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artistic and cultural practices with the world.

This large scale immersive digital mapping project features over twenty remote Indigenous Art Centres, and interviews with over 150 Indigenous artists and arts workers from across the country.

UPLANDS is a project by Agency and has been funded by the Australian Government through the Restart to Invest, Sustain and Expand (RISE) program and the Indigenous Visual Art Industry Support (IVAIS) program.




Principal Partner

Government Partners

Project Partners

Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Sovereign Custodians of the land on which we live and work. We extend our respects to their Ancestors and all First Nations peoples and Elders past, present, and future.