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As well as receiving manuscript submissions, we initiate and deliver a wide range of cultural projects that ensure stories with enduring social, cultural and educational value, continue to be read by new generations of Australians.
We work with authors, illustrators, storytellers and communities to produce new editions of older titles, commission new works of significance, carry out intergenerational projects with a publication outcome (like Our World: Bardi Jawi Life at Ardiyooloon) and record Elder’s stories.
Strategic commissioning is an important aspect of this work, allowing us to:
Our cultural initiatives are made possible thanks to the generosity of individual donors, Trusts and Foundations and project grants. To date, with the support of the Cultural Fund, we have produced new editions of cultural classics like Yorro Yorro: Everything Standing Up Alive, Two Sisters and the Yinti series, and published new of works of cultural significance, including Ninu: Grandmothers' Law.
Yorna Woolagoodja is a renowned Kimberley artist whose giant Namaralay Wandjina featured in the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. He is the chairman of the Mowanjum Artists Spirit of the Wandjina Aboriginal Corporation.
His significant cultural biography, Yornadaiyn Woolagoodja was published by Magabala in October 2020 thanks to the generous support of the Cultural Fund. The book invites readers to explore an alternate worldview, a different way of being in Country, and makes a profound cultural contribution.
“I had that feeling in my ngaanyoolum, my leeyaan, that I wanted to write this book... I was born in my Country and spent my childhood living with my old people, visiting Country with them and experiencing my Culture. The old people taught me what I know. I want this book to help all the younger generation – not just this generation, but the next ones too.” - Yorna Woolagoodja.
This project focuses on developing the skills of Kimberley Aboriginal artists in book illustration and publication. Commencing in 2017, with workshops on children’s book publishing at a range of art centres across the Kimberley, Magabala is now working with 6 individual artists from Kiro Kira Arts in Kalumburu, Waringarri Arts Centre in Kununurra, Mowanjum Arts, Mangkaja Arts in Fitzroy Crossing and Warmun Art Centre to publish a series of children’s picture books telling local Kimberley stories.
The first book in the series, My Story, Ngaginybe Jarragbe by Shirley Purdie is now available. This project is generously supported by the State Government of Western Australia's Kimberley Development Commission through a Regional Economic Development Grant.
Time is of the essence when recording and sharing our Elders’ stories. Our philanthropic Cultural Fund enables Magabala to respond promptly to requests for support to record Elders’ stories. Current projects include:
- Mr A. Griffiths book project: senior Ngarinyman Law man and artist A. Griffiths passed away in 2018. Not long before his passing, he had begun recording his life story for publication. With funding from the AESOP Foundation, Magabala is supporting the Griffiths family to continue the manuscript development of this significant story.
- The Bill Dempsey Story: former Australian rules footballer Bill Dempsey is currently recording his life story with Steve Hawke, thanks to the generous support of individual donors.
- Uncle Max Harrison: through the support of the Cultural Fund, senior Yuin Elder and Law man, Uncle Max Dulumunmun Harrison is currently engaged in story development for a book project.
We keep a substantial backlist in print and our earliest titles stand strong alongside new releases in the trade. With the support of the Cultural Fund, we produce new editions of culturally significant titles to be enjoyed by the next generation of readers. New-editioning includes redesigning and reformatting in keeping with contemporary publishing developments, giving older titles a new lease of life.
New editions coming soon:
- Bran Nue Dae: A Musical Journey by Jimmy Chi & Kuckles (first published 1991)
- Memoirs from the Corner Country: The Story of May Hunt by Harold Hunt (first published 2006)
- Ngay Janijirr Ngank - This Is My Word by Magdalene Williams (first published 1999)
Nura Nungalka Ward was a Yankunytjatjara woman from the Central Desert, born during a time when Central Desert people were leaving their homelands. Nura, who has passed away, was a great storyteller, a matriarch, a strong Law woman and a consummate teacher of dance.
“Her life was so powerful; she was a leader. When I was growing up she used to teach me, and I’ve written those stories in the book.” – Melissa Thompson, niece of the late Nura Ward.
Nura’s story was compiled by the NPY Women’s Council and Ara Irititja over the last eight years of Mrs Wards life and was published by Magabala Books as Ninu Grandmothers’ Law in 2018. Part biography, part customs manual and food guide, part traditional social history, Ninu Grandmothers’ Law is a rare testament to one woman’s advocacy for her family, people and culture.
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