I just saw this news release, and I may be late to the party, but I wanted to share the great news that Will Stubbs from the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre has been given the Australia Council Visual Arts Award (Advocate) by the Australia Council for the Arts:
Will Stubbs is coordinator at the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre in Yirrkala, NT, and a passionate advocate of Indigenous arts and Australia’s unique arts centres. A former criminal lawyer, Will in 1995 began working with Yolŋu elders and artists, such as Djambawa Marawili AM, Gawirrin Gumana AO and Wanyubi Marika. The Yirrkala artists have since won 30 major art prizes and exhibited widely and internationally, including Musee du Quai Branly.
“A passionate advocate” in some senses hardly seems to capture the intensity of Will’s devotion to Yolngu art and culture; in another way, to call Will’s low-key approach to educating people, cajoling sponsors, and building programs “passionate” seems oddly off-key. Will burns with an intense but quiet light and he’s been one of the greatest of my mentors in coming to understand Indigenous culture.
I spent an amazing day with Will in Yirrkala ten years ago, my first ever visit to a community and an art centre. I couldn’t absorb enough information, whether in the form of stories, sights, smells, or the sounds of yidaki played by kids storming through the art centre after school. When the day was done, Will pulled me aside and told me to relax. “I know you’re eager to learn,” he said. “You shouldn’t work so hard at it. It will come to you in time.”
Those were probably the smartest words of advice anyone’s ever given me on this subject. I took them to heart and prospered.
My hat’s off to you, Will. Again.
I had the good fortune to spend three days with Will at Yirrkala Art Center in August. And, like you, I had the same profound experience. He is a special person, and so deserving of this honor.