Our Art is a Bridge from our Culture and Community to the outside world.
Pormpuraaw is a Thaayorre village. People have lived here for thousands of years. We are still here today. The word "pormpuraaw" means entrance way to a house in Thaayorre language. We have our own languages, culture and laws. Thaayorre people are saltwater people who have always lived along this coastline. Kugu and Wik people have also always lived in this country. Kugu people are from the land connected to the northern boundary of Thaayorre country. Wik people are from the coastal country to the north of Kugu country and inland to the north east. Inter-marriage was common. The first documented contact between Thaayorre people and Europeans and was in the 1920's. Many people were forcibly removed and made to work for no or little wages. This lasted for two generations. Men were drovers for the cattle business and women were made to be cooks and domestic servants. Our people were scattered all over the Cape but have never forgotten who they are and the importance of belonging to country. Every water hole, river bank and section of bushland has a traditional owner. It is still that way today. Most people in the community speak 3 to 4 indigenous languages plus English. We still fish with nets, spear and line. We use dogs and spears to hunt pig and wallabies. Our language and culture is strong and we are still here.
In 1938 the Anglican missionary Joseph Chapman came and built a church, school and started farming. He liked this place because he found good drinking water. The missionaries came and learned our language first and then taught us English. For a long time they grazed cattle and tried to earn a living from the land in this way. We do not do that anymore but wild cattle still roam free. The government ran our community until the early 1970's. After that we established our own aboriginal council government and aboriginal people were counted in the census.
Our Art Centre was started in 2005 by Irma Ashwin and our elders. They saw it as a way to help preserve culture and create an export industry. It is a way for us to stay on the land and earn a living. Pormpuraaw is blessed with many talented artists.
We maintain a "Keeping Place" for significant artefacts, art works and historical photos for the benefit of the community. We record oral history in digital format. We run a gallery and media centre and traditional dance group. Our centre is open to everyone. All are invited to come and "give it a go".