Harvesting Traditional Knowledge is a two-way learning platform that brings Australian Indigenous traditional knowledge masters together with conservators from Australian cultural institutions to share different approaches to caring for Indigenous cultural material.

The Harvesting Traditional Knowledge project has connected over 120 Indigenous artists and arts workers from remote Indigenous Art Centres in the Tiwi Islands, Darwin/Katherine, Arnhem Land and Kimberley regions (an area spanning 1000km2 and over 50 language groups) with each other and with 24 conservators and curators from 14 key cultural institutions across Australia. The project included four workshops at remote Indigenous Art Centres, the production of a documentary, short videos and podcasts, as well as a project information booklet and website.

Harvesting Traditional Knowledge has resulted in a strong network of people sharing knowledge about the material science of cultural objects; how they are made, what they mean to the artists and their communities, and how to best care for them and make them to a high quality standard.

The Association of Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists (ANKAAA) delivered the workshops with key project partners, Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre (Yirrkala, North East Arnhem Land), the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, University of Melbourne and host institution Mowanjum Art and Culture (Derby, West Kimberley).

Inspiring Australia

The project is part of the Inspiring Australia initiative and was funded over two years (2013-2014) by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. It builds on ANKAAA’s Digital Archiving and Keeping Place Support Program funded through the Australia Council for the Arts.

What people think of Havesting Traditional Knowledge

Ruth Nalmakarra, Milingimbi Art & Culture

Balanda and Yolngu working together sharing knowledge from each other made me feel happy, strong and proud.

Miriam Charlie, Waralungku Arts

…I had never done anything like this before. I enjoyed watching Sammy Lovell showing the olden time things that his people had used and also the Boomerang making. I told the artists at my Art Centre how he smoothed it with his axe and they couldn’t believe it…

Meg Absolon, National Gallery of Australia

It’s been fantastic, we’ve just learnt so much in such a short time, it’s amazing. It’s been such a privilege to be so warmly welcomed to Country. Then to have the artists share with us all of their knowledge and techniques… an amazing experience.

Suzanne Jess

You’ll see the end product, the artefact, but don’t really understand what’s gone into creating it. So for me, that’s just been a wonderful experience.