One day in September

Newsletter November 2016


The Men’s Tjilira Movement is rekindling skills that were almost lost. It is bridging generational gaps, empowering and affirming. But what happens on a day of Tjilirra making? This vignette from Jamie Millier Tjupurrula, CASSE’s Program Manager for the Men’s Tjilirra Movement, shares some of the work done by the MTM ‘one day in September’…

We went to CDP and gathered some men and went to the borders of community to work on the items they’ve cut. The men we’ve had this week have been well engaged and their level of work was high again. It was a really nice organic feeling with all of us sitting down, talking and working on their items. I noticed that the men in the group were largely clients who had worked with us before and we could both see their skills are rapidly improving.

Both Farren and Leicester spoke about how their objects were being made in the style that their Grandfathers’ used to practise. Leicester was making a kuturu but he kept working it in a style that Nathan had not seen before. We let him work without saying much but as it become more obvious that this was a relatively unique object we asked him more about it. He told us that he’d seen something similar in his Grandfather’s house a long time ago and that his Grandfather used to make this type of piece for his Grandmother. Farren had only recently seen a photo of his Grandfather on the internet holding a shield with a snake pattern on it and that had inspired his piece also.

I went and spoke with some of the elder men and told them where we were sitting. Only one of these older men came down but it was a very worthwhile visit. He spent good time with each of the young men and offered advice where he could. Nathan and I both noticed the real pride he seemed to get by seeing some of the younger generation living their culture like people used to. This old man also started cracking away at a boomerang and it was obvious from the way he was working the piece that he had experience in making tjilirra. He was quite frail but once he started on the boomerang it was like he was a young man, chopping away at the piece with power and accuracy.


The Men’s Tjilirra Movement partners CASSE with Aboriginal communities in Haasts Bluff (Ikuntji) , Mt Liebig (Amunturrngu), Kintore (Walungurru), Papunya (Warumpi)  and Kiwirrkurra in Australia’s central western desert region, with Remote Jobs Community Program (RJCP)  in collaboration with the Royal Flying Doctors Service. The Men’s Tjilira Movement is rekindling skills that were almost lost. It is bridging generational gaps, affirming and empowering.