Reviewed by Jill
In 1984, graffiti crept onto buildings in Yuendumu, particularly the school. Five artists began a project to paint motifs on the school’s doors in an effort to discourage further graffiti. More importantly, it was an opportunity to record the significant matters of their people, to reveal these matters to the children, and to explain them. The images were to act as teaching aids. This strategy worked, but within a short time, the graffiti had reasserted itself, and the images were disappearing under a new rhetoric. Fortunately, there was a groundswell of interest and concern, and a massive restoration project has enabled the stories to live on, sometimes aided by sheer luck. Behind the Doors: An Art History from Yuendumu presents the artists and their people, the Doors and their restoration, and the extraordinary rituals and stories in the motifs. It is also a marvellous account of a small community.