Wakulda: Weaving our Stories as One

A digital artwork commissioned by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to mark the Bicentenary of Port Macquarie's founding as a penal colony.

Project Details

This digital artwork was commissioned by Port Macquarie Hastings Council to mark 200 years since the establishment of Port Macquarie as a penal colony. The 10min audio-visual artwork screened nightly during the Bicentenary week on the Historic Courthouse building, and then every night at 630pm.


Project Lead, Research, Community Engagement, Interviews: Dr. Sarah Barns Creative Director: Michael Killalea Art Direction and Motion Graphics: Anna Fraser Sound: Gary Sinclair Additional music credit: James Bennett ('Waves') Cinematography: Kane Skennar Photographic Producer: Omee Deling

Esem Projects also worked with over thirty community participants in the making of this artwork. Particular thanks to Aunty Rhonda, Uncle Bill, Trish McInerney, participants of the weaving workshop and the Ngarrgan Mirrilyn Choir.

Working collaboratively with Birpai Elder Aunty Rhonda, Esem Projects led the creation of Wakulda as a space in which many different perspectives on place could be interwoven and shared with the community.

In particular, this piece needed to recognise the Bicentenary as a time of grieving for Birpai people, a people who have lived in these lands for tens of thousands of years, for whom European arrival and settlement was a time of dispossession and violence. With support from Council, Wakulda became a very prominent piece through which past wrongs against Aboriginal people were acknowledged, meaning that Bicentenary commemorations could be a time for Birpai voices to be heard.

Working with a number of Aboriginal community members and local storytellers, Esem worked as a team to shape a visually impactful and enlivening piece that invited the community of Port Macquarie Hastings to share in the ancient stories of the region and look forward to a more inclusive future, in which connection to landscape, stories of belonging and natural resources can be celebrated and protected.

With thanks to the communities of Port Macquarie for entrusting us with this powerful story.


Wakulda: Weaving Our Stories as One (Full Video)


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