The Motika Project

The Motika Project

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The Motika Project uses a range of arts mediums to investigate the cultural role of the ‘motika’ (Aboriginal slang for motor car) in the lives of indigenous people from 3 remote aboriginal communities in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The stories shared about the ‘motika’ are a thematic platform from which much deeper social, cultural, gender and behavioural issues affecting the well-being and sustainability of remote indigenous communities can be identified, named and ultimately addressed. We hope that this deeper engagement and motivation by indigenous and non-indigenous residents can become a leadership model for change in the community.

The role of the motika is central to understanding the transitioning of indigenous Australians from nomadic people who moved about on foot to people who are now centralised and semi-permanently housed on small remote communities spread across Australia. Since the introduction of the motika its impact and role in Indigenous people’s lives is profound.  It is one of the key devices used to help maintain culture, ie. required to attend Sorry Business, law, funerals, attending sports carnivals and visiting families and retaining a sense of being nomadic.

In addition to road and vehicle safety and crime prevention The Motika Project is also strongly designed to maximize the participation, creativity and employment of young indigenous men.  For many young men going to jail either for domestic violence or vehicle related crimes has become a right passage into adulthood for most young men. 

Only a hand full of men over the age of fifteen haven’t been to jail. This cycle of incarceration in addition to the absence of meaningful and sustainable employment on remote communities has a huge impact on their sense of identity as a man, their purpose in life, families, wives and children and ability to participate in local cultural men’s lore practices.  As a result the high incidence of violence, law breaking, self harm and suicide is not surprising.  In 2008 all the funerals across Balgo, Mulan and Billiluna communities were for men and in the last 3 months there have been 3 hangings in Balgo – all young men aged 13-21. This is the justification for the project- innovative and alternative thinking for old problems. 

The Motika Project is proudly supported by the Community Road Safety Grants Program which is funded by the Road Trauma Trust Fund; Australian Government Attorney- General’s Department- Proceeds of Crime Program and; National Jobs Package (DEWHA).

An exciting spinoff of The Motika Project was a partnership between Warlayirti Artists, ReDot Gallery in Singapore and Audi Japan.  In April 2010 artists Helicopter Tjungurrayi, Graham Gordon, Howard McLarty, Ronald Mosquito and Imelda Gugaman and Miriam Baadjo  travelled to Tokyo on the invitation of Audi Japan to paint the next release Audi in the Audi Forum Building in central Tokyo. The project  enabled professional visual art promotion, engagement and participation by painters via the ‘Audi’ connection. Accompanying this event was a large scale exhibition of current artworks created by Warlayirti Artists.  

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