A unique and extensive collection of over 400 photographs of First Nations people living at Wallaga Lake and Bermagui will be revealed to the wider community on November 3 at Bermagui Library.
The photographs were all taken by Bermagui based artist and photographer, Penny Jones over a period of nearly 30 years, of the families living on Djiringanj country, part of the Yuin nation.
A selection of photographs were made into an exhibition of eight large banners called “Back in the Day” for the recent Wallaga Lake Community Concert.
And now this exhibition will be in the foyer of the Bermagui Community Centre until November 20, before it moves to the other libraries in the Bega Valley Shire.
South East Arts and the Bega Valley Shire Library jointly funded the banners.
Programs and partnerships officer, Scott Baker said that he believed this was the only collection of its kind in New South Wales.
“This large collection is very significant not only from a local perspective but also because these photos document social history and form an invaluable, multi-generational visual record for local First Nations families,” Mr Baker said.
“The importance of this collection should not be underestimated, it will become a cherished documentary history of the Wallaga Lake and Bermagui community and the library is proud to be caretakers of this precious collection.”
In March 2016, the Bega Valley Shire Library was approached by South East Arts and Penny Jones to help preserve the collection and to provide advice on scanning and digitising the photographs.
With the blessing of the community, the library and volunteers proceeded to scan hundreds of photographs, which will be catalogued and made available for people to view online and print out.
Photographer Penny Jones is thrilled to see the photos preserved in the library archive, and celebrated in the “Back in the Day” exhibition.
“These photos were taken over many years and represent many generations. I think they show, more than words ever could, the warmth, strength and beauty of these First Peoples of the Far South Coast of NSW,” Ms Jones said.
A celebration of the collection and exhibition will be held at Bermagui Library at 3.30pm on Friday, November 3 and everyone is welcome. There will be light refreshments provided.
You can view the banner images on the South East Arts website for a limited time.
The “Back in the Day” exhibition will then travel to Bega, Tura Marrang and Eden libraries over summer.