About 12 Canoes

12 Canoes (a selection)

The digital media project 12 Canoes is a broadband website presenting to the World, in an artistic and cultural way, the stories, art and environment of the Yolngu people who live around the Arafura Swamp in north-eastern Arnhem Land. The project reflects the desires of the Yolngu people in telling the story of their culture, environment, art and lives.

The Arafura Swamp in North-Eastern Arnhem Land is one of the most beautiful, harsh and compelling places I have had the privilege of visiting. In June of 2007 I was part of a team of four who travelled to the township of Ramingining, two of us for the first time. We were there at the invitation of the community to capture a sense of the art, culture, traditional ways and contemporary life of the Yolngu peoples, to document and realise a sense of the spirit of the people, for future generations of Yolgnu and for the World.

Over the next two weeks we were bounced around in a series of red dust-laden 4WDs in various states of disrepair. Escorted by Elders of the community we were taken to remote areas of sacred and cultural significance, waded waist-deep in crocodile infested waters, attended boys’ dance classes as dusk fell over the township and sat on verandahs recording stories of the art, of ceremony, of massacres at the hands of the Balanda (white men) and the fight to save their land and people, of community hopes for the future. And simply, of life.

These pictures are intended to leave the viewer with a sense of place. A sense of the true beauty of the people and their lands.

12 Canoes is their story.


CJ Taylor 

Image Details: All Dry Prints on Hahnemühle archival photo rag paper. This is a selection of images from the project. Visit the 12canoes website for multimedia pieces