Level 2, Building 100
Tuesday to Friday: 11am – 5pm
Saturday: 12.30pm – 5pm
VENUE: RMIT Design Hub Gallery
“Uti Kulintjaku is a new way, using the old way, and bringing it into the new world.” (Rene Kulitja, Uti Kulintjaku leader)
We create resources with a deep consideration of the vast knowledge that has its roots in our Anangu history. We include an immersive experience of being in county, the challenges of mental health and building hope for the future, and the particular perspectives and concerns of our community.
Our meditations are the first ever meditations in an Aboriginal language. It is vital the meditations were in our language because they speak to our spirit. Our language is a part of our culture. It is how we express our feelings and how we understand and think about things. In Pitjantjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra we have described our country and our world, the way we see and feel it, and what soothes and comforts us. The voices we recorded are well known to us all, they are our senior people, ngangkari and leaders. We hope other people will enjoy listening to our meditations, co-produced with Smiling Mind. Enjoy travelling on the soothing journey within them, seeing and feeling our world through our eyes.
Through our virtual reality artworks we started to develop and practice ways of using story and law to aid people we’re concerned about – those with mental health struggles, confusion, people in crisis. People who are wondering what they should be doing, people who are paralysed by addiction, whose worlds are closed to them, people who are living in a half-life. We thought to retrieve an old story about a man who became entrapped in a hollow log and we set about making something that might be of assistance to people who are unwell and struggling with mental health issues.
This project will be included in the Archives of Feeling exhibition at RMIT Design Hub Gallery.
Image: ‘Uti Kulintjaku is a new way, using the old way, and bringing it into the new world’: Rene Kulitja. Production image of Rene Kulitja for Uti Kulintjaku (2022). Image courtesy of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council Aboriginal Corporation.
Photographer: Rhett Hammerton.
“We were born on this land, we birthed on this land, our blood and the blood of our mothers and grandmothers is in this land. We are in this land and the land is in us.” (Mantatjara Wilson, founding member of NPY Women’s Council)
Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council Aboriginal Corporation is led by women’s law, authority and culture to deliver health, social and cultural services for all Aboriginal people (Anangu) across the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara (NPY) lands in Central Australia. The NPY Women’s Council’s Ngangkari Program supports ngangkari (traditional healers) to continue to look after the physical and emotional health of their people through traditional healing practices in their communities.
Uti Kulintjaku is an innovative, Anangu-led mental health literacy project from the Ngangkari Program that takes its name from a Pitjantjatjara phrase that means ‘to listen, think and understand clearly’. Formed in 2012 by senior Anangu women who are ngangkari, community leaders, multi-form artists, health professionals and educators, Uti Kulintjaku works to understand and address cycles of trauma and create positive change in the mental health and wellbeing of our communities, developing innovative arts and media to explore the psychosocial experiences of trauma and depression.
At its core the team look at language and cultural concepts surrounding mental health and wellbeing as a key to cross-cultural learning, producing language-based innovative resources designed to recover and extend emotional vocabulary and understanding. Resources include animations, trauma-informed meditations, digital and print books and posters, conversation cards and magnets, and virtual reality artworks that describe the experiences of trauma and mental health through traditional stories.
These resources are being used in a range of settings to enable people to talk more easily and effectively about mental health. The team hopes that using these tools might enable people to ‘see through Anangu eyes’ and to gain a better understanding of their ways of managing mental health.
“I think a lot about the two worlds that we live in now—the non-Anangu world, the whitefella world, the mainstream world, and the Anangu cultural world. I think about how to work within both worlds, how to bring them together so we’re supporting each other with strong knowledge about both worlds. And I think about how to pass on my experience and knowledge to my children so that they stand strong in their culture, stand strong in the two worlds.” (Rene Kulitja, Uti Kulintjaku leader)
The Ngangkari Program’s Uti Kulintjaku initiative partnered with Smiling Mind to create meditations and mindfulness activities to quieten worried minds. We have spent a lot of time thinking about and working on trauma-informed meditations. In our series of guided meditations in Pitjantjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra, we describe our country and our world, the way we see and feel it, and what soothes and comforts us. Through mindfulness we understand how to listen to our bodies, to be mindful of our senses, and to improve our well-being. You can practice our meditations on the Smiling Mind app, or find them hosted on the NPY Women’s Council YouTube channel.
As we know that some people may be uncomfortable closing their eyes, a few of our hosted meditations are presented through stunning video, rather than only audio, to centre the listener through evocative sights and sounds of desert landscapes.
Working with UNSW felt Experience and Empathy Lab (feel), the team created a virtual reality work, sharing their healing practices through creative visualisation. Waumananyi: The Song on the Wind is an Anangu-led response to the experiences of constraint, entrapment and depression through the traditional story of The Man in the Log. The VR was featured at the Big Anxiety – Festival or people, art and science, Sydney 2019.
When you use our meditations, listen deeply to the story. The meditation takes you to that happy place where you feel good. For us Anangu that place is essentially in the bush, on country. The story brings up a memory that associated with a good feeling.
And there’s something more about what it does in your body. In meditation, you are thinking through your body, through your head, through your ears, through the whole totality of your being.
You understand how to be mindful of your senses, improve your wellbeing, and be aware of different, positive thoughts. Our meditations help to bring quiet to your mind’s worries by giving attention to your body and breath.
Our virtual reality experience asks what is it really like to be physically and mentally trapped in a space that you can’t escape from? Can you see through holes in the log? Can you see and hear the people you love but you cannot connect with them? What is your feeling?