Wellama means ‘to come back’ in the Sydney language. This 10 minute audio visual artwork, by Alison Page and Nik Lachajczak, is a celebration of ritual, ceremony and story practised on Country since time immemorial. It welcomes visitors to Gadigal Country and pays respect to the Traditional Custodians of this land.
"Fundamental to the identity of over 300 nations in Indigenous Australia is the connection to homelands and the protocols that exist to maintain it. Indigenous people regard Country as a living, breathing entity; a member of the family to be cared for and nurtured. There is no separation between the people and the land. The stories and memories of the ancestors are as present as they ever were. Defying the very notions of time, 65,000 years of history and knowledge exists right here, right now.. and always will.
The Welcome to Country is an important cultural protocol that embodies these beliefs. It recognises, celebrates and respects the responsibility that the Traditional Owners have in caring for that land, and acknowledges the people that come to it meaningfully through the welcome. Its purpose is to put the visitors’ spirits at ease and invites them to join in the love and care for that country in which they have entered."
- Alison Page
BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO: This 6-minute video features artist Alison Page discussing concepts and ideas within Wellama film work.
Wellama means ‘to come back’ in the local language. It represents more than just the replaying of the digital loop; it marks the resurgence of culture in the Sydney region, recognition of our continued occupation and resurfacing of traditional knowledge that has laid dormant beneath the steel and glass layers of the metropolis that was laid down on Gadigal land.
In this work, scenes of Eora fisherwomen and camps reference paintings commissioned in the early colony. These have become an important resource for the traditional owners of the Sydney region, whose cultural practices and language were outlawed 100 years after colonisation. While often referred to as ethnographic and romantic visions of traditional life, these paintings are symbolic of the tranquil idyll that existed on the shores of the harbour for millennia. This was life in Sydney for thousands of years.
Wellama explores the practice of traditional knowledge, including the preparation of medicines, management of land with fire and maintenance of seasonal calendars. The work dives in and out of the past and the present to emphasise that 65,000 years ago exists right now and the spirituality is not lost. The young contemporary warrior fishes out of a city fountain and a young girl dives into the depths of the harbour; both searching for and connecting with this potent and ever-present spirit.
Working with and engaging the local community is critical to the success of Wellama as it is the reconnections made in the filming process that give the film its true power. This film represents a recognition of the traditional owners of Sydney and their welcome to the millions who call Sydney home.
PREVIEW VIDEO: Watch a preview of Wellama below.
Join host Emily Nicol for an exploration of the Aboriginal Welcome to Country ceremony, the daily lives and activities of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and the story of Barangaroo, the powerful Cammeraygal leader after whom Barangaroo the place takes its name.
Wellama Podcast Episode 1: Welcome to Country
Listen on Soundcloud
In this episode, host Emily Nicol is joined by writer and director of the artwork Wellama Alison Page and Gadigal and Dunghutti man Joel Davison to explore what a Welcome to Country is and its’ significance and value to Aboriginal people today.
Wellama Podcast Episode 2: Barangaroo the woman
Listen on Soundcloud
In this episode, host Emily Nicol is joined by Yvonne Weldon and Nathan Moran of the Metro Aboriginal Land Council to explore First Peoples’ relationship and deeply spiritual connection to the land, skies and waters of Australia and the remarkable story of Barangaroo, the powerful Cammeraygal leader after whom Barangaroo the place takes its name.
Co-writer, co-director, producer, production designer
Alison is a descendant of the Walbanga and Wadi Wadi people from La Perouse. She is an award-winning creative championing the creative expression of Aboriginal identity in interiors, public art, product design, installations and film. In 2015, Alison was inducted into the Design Institute of Australia’s Hall of Fame.
Co-writer, co-director, DOP, editor, sound designer
Nik is a Director, Cinematographer and Editor that has worked with communities in Australia and globally spanning over two decades. He has handled shooting, logistics, production and delivery on overseas and domestic features, broadcast documentaries, television series and online projects.
Nik and Alison founded Zakpage in 2015.
Richard ‘Ricky’ Campbell
Production Manager - Helen Morrison
Line Producer - Tara Wardrop
Camera Assistant - Olivier Marcolin
Steadicam - Ken Butti, Olivier Marcolin
Gaffer - Nick De Laine, Alan Fraser
Gaffer Assistant - Garfield Darlington, Sebastian Estrada
Underwater Cinematography - Stefan Jose, Peter Lightowler
Buddy Diver - Dave Thomas, Tamara Luise Garcia
Art Department - Dean Kelly, Dakota Dixon, Nik Lachajczak, Rhianna Malezer
Nawi Specialist - David Payne
Make up - Helen Tuck, Mariel McClorey, Jess Birk, Sheldon Wade
Production Assistants - Georgia Quinn, Megan Norris
Safety Consultants - Simon Reynolds, Zero Risk International
Behind the scenes - Kelly Stoner
Post Supervisor - Alison Page
Sound Design and Mix - Scott Collins
Music Composition - Scott Collins
Archival Footage - Zakpage
Post Production Services - Cutting Edge
Post Production Coordinator - Charley Wignall
Colourist - Danny Scotting
On line editor - Glenn Cone
Media Operator - Patrick Buckley
Final Sound Mix - Michael Thomas