WARRAMBANY : FLOOD WATERS: Madelene Purdie on the Flood of Warmun

5 November - 3 December 2021

Warrambany : Flood Waters is an exhibition by artist Madelene Purdie, showcasing an incredible body of work that pays homage to this extraordinary event. PLEASE JOIN SHORT ST GALLERY & MADELENE TO OPEN THE EXHIBITION ON FRIDAY NOVEMBER 5 @ 6PM. ALL WELCOME.

The Warrambany (Flood) of Warmun took place on March 13, 2011. It was devastating, tearing through town and destroying almost everything. In under 4 hours Turkey Creek rose over 9 metres, engulfing almost all the buildings in town, including the communities precious Art Centre. The actions of people on the ground that day helped avoid greater tragedies, with many tales of bravery and courage. The art centres priceless art collection was unfortunately not able to be saved and saw over 600 works of art lost to the flood. With their deep connection to Country, the Gija people’s shock and loss was compounded by their evacuation from Warmun. They found themselves in the ‘big smoke’ of Kununurra and Broome, feeling culturally out-of-place on other peoples country. In a valiant effort by many private and public enterprises, the town and art centre was re-built and less than 4 months after the floods, the first residents were able to return home.

Well known Warmun artist Shirley Purdie, and Madelene Purdie’s mother,
describes her shock as events unfolded, “We started crying. We were really sad. We saw the flood come, and you know pouring through the hills, through the house and we saw everything going….That Warrambany from last year, bin’ hanging that whole freezer up in our tree. He’s still there today.”

Like all residents of Turkey Creek, Madelene Purdie was greatly affected by the floods. She witnessed her family’s artworks washing down the river, saw fridges in trees, and experienced the effects of displacement and temporary homelessness. This year marks 10 years since the flood. Madelene has created on a body of work that reflects on her experience of the Warrambany, depicting many of the scenes she witnessed before, during and after. Her exhibition is a unique and important take on the floods. It is also a celebration of the resilience and strength of Gija culture and embodies the significance of remembrance through art.