In September 2022, Martine Perret and Roly Skender's audio-visual artwork Wannang Biridge, was projected onto The Farm's iconic Peppermint Tree. As part of their ongoing investigation into the intrinsic connectivity of the land past and present, they collaborated with Wardandi people Mitchella Hutchins, Vivian Brockman Webb, Mabenan and Majinda Hutchins, to portray the sacred feminine significance of the Wannang tree. Wannang Biridge means ‘light of the Peppermint Tree’ in the Wardandi language of the Margaret River region.
Wardandi Elder Mitchella Hutchins explains, "The tree is sacred to women. We use it for so many different purposes, such as making our ‘Warnna’ stick...We use the rest of the tree too - the leaves to clear the nose and the throat, we chew the leaves to get rid of morning sickness and nausea, and we squash the leaves and put it all over our bodies to keep the mosquitoes away...Significant trees...are often women's birthing places. The placentas of not just one birth, but generational births have been placed by a family under that tree - the spirit of the tree feeds the baby and the baby's spirit feeds the tree."
Wannang Biridge, developed at The Farm, opened the Global Task Force Meeting for the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 13 December 2022. This was followed by the Wardandi women presenting live on stage singing the Kaya welcome song with the UNESCO Choir.
"Many of our mob have had our language oppressed [and] a lot of people haven't heard our old songs in old language for a long time,” says Mitchella Hutchins. It is the first time the Wardandi artists have left Australia, and the group hope to return from France with inspiration, ideas and creative ways for engaging with communities to re-establish language.
Martine Perret is an internationally awarded Paris-born photographic artist, living and working in Margaret River. Her approach to artistic work is based on a career in photojournalism, including a decade covering UN peacekeeping missions in conflict zones such as South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Timor-Leste and West Africa. Her recent projects, 'Ngala Wongga (Come Talk)' and 'Belong', exhibited at the WA Museum Boola Bardip and highlight the importance of First Nations' languages.