SHORE in Narrm ESSAY by Kat Clarke

Yirramboi: A festival that lifted our spirits and welcomed us home.


The city was an ambience of joy and celebration as SHORE in Narrm presented by Emily Johnson and the Yirramboi First Nations Arts Festival sparked alight. First Nation’s People from around the globe, and a community of creative arts and talent from diverse backgrounds shone brightly with key highlights of the festival speaking loud and proud. It was a vibration that spoke to the spirits of many. There was not one part of the festival that wasn’t occupied throughout some of our most iconic and cultural landmarks. The festival encouraged you to embrace culture and arts from the ground up. Like poetic justice, music, language, and voices invaded the ears and echoed in song for a new tomorrow as we feasted and shared our stories in celebration.

I found myself swept into the crowds of mass people and communities of familiar faces that had inspired others alike, to take a closer look at the political and historical injustices, social and environmental sustainability changes affecting our lives, and the way diverse communities from all walks of life can make a difference and encourage change to society when united. Yirramboi and SHORE Narrm reflected community, kinship and the connection we have to the land we occupy with respect and that was reciprocated with community action. It exposed the gaps in our society that made you wish there were more festivals like it and posed questions such as; why aren’t we recycling items to develop more community resources or culturally safe spaces more often? And, what could be possible if we gathered the way we did at the SHORE Feast event and Yirramboi closing ceremony?

In a vibrant city that is home to the Wurundjeri and Boon-wurrung of the Kulin Nations, Melbourne can be somewhat trapped in a bubble of the 9-5 working lifestyle that is hollow and chaotic at the worst of times. Yirramboi was like a rebirth; it brought out the community heart and slowed the clock down to where time barely existed. People were able to take a moment and reflect, experience and understand the city outside of the stereotypical and industrial shell it had built itself upon. Stories were shared through yarning circles, crafts and traditional practices, to poetry, soundscapes, and spoken word. Immersed, the experience was both surreal and spiritual for me, I could smell the cleansing of smoke as it flared my nostrils and reminded me of home back in the country with every event I attended. Its funny how we express voice and storytelling through the arts in order to be heard, but as we know, art is expression; it’s a supportive and honest voice.  Such was Yirramboi, for it’s first year I can only say it blew me and everyone else away. What you take away from that is what you should hold onto.

As an artist and participant for Yirramboi it was overwhelming to feel the love that was shared throughout the whole two-weeks despite the pressures and commitments we have as creative people in the industry, the work that went into building such a massive festival is not something you can do alone. It takes passion, multiple staunch production teams working throughout different events, a solid framework and of course, creative writers’, artists and performers to deliver their material in the capacity that it was represented to make Yirramboi a memorable one. I think the best part about Yirramboi and SHORE was the fact that you didn’t need to feel like you had to have validation for just being, whether that would be as an audience member, participant, creative or crew - everyone was welcomed. If there was any animosity it was drowned out and made irrelevant. All those involved had creative control of their own work and with themes that connected communities; you can’t help but feel pride.  


By Kat Clarke




SHORE Scribes: by Kat Clarke

·      Genevieve Greeves - The Violence of Denial was a phenomenal exhibition. It reflected the past wrongs placed upon First Nations people. The way in which culture continues to thrive because of these and refuses to be silenced any longer. Bold and beautiful.  – The Art House

·      Voices like murmurs beyond the entrance of the Art House Main Hall were a wash of waves as soon as the doors open. Footsteps sweep through - rata-tat-tat. - SHORE Story

·      The smell of the native plants and smoke from the fire ignites my senses to a new kind of high. Humbled to be. SHORE Story

·      Silence wafts across the room, as the empty stage becomes our only focus. Ready to begin. – SHORE Story

·      ‘Our relationship and connection to the water is serene. Wetlands sleep beneath these lines.’ – Marita SHORE Story

·      ‘Blackfish – the wisdom of Alaska’s Spirit.’ – Emily Johnson SHORE Story

·      ‘They didn’t know. No one does…’ Tyson SHORE Story

·      ‘The Maribyrnong is romantic when the night is right and you have the view of the river, stars shining. Under the moon the Maribyrnong River has created so many children. Especially in the summer.’ – Taungurung Elder Uncle Larry Walsh

·      ‘I love how you move in your chair.’ Jackie Jax

·      ‘Deep in the earth our seeds are planted.’  - Yarran  

·      I love the way your words and etchings put me together again stich by stitch. Read me over and over again. – Possum Skin Healing Cloak SHORE Feast

·      I have never had traditional ice cream with fish and berries. A taste and texture that blended sweetly on my taste buds. - SHORE Feast

·      You can gain so much wisdom and a lifetime of lessons in one day if you just took the time to sit and hear your Elder’s. And don’t take it for granted if given the invitation. - SHORE Feast