Born 1985 in Nowra, Australia Lives in Darwin, Australia Djapu

“Portal to the Past’ is a poem I wrote for my paternal grandmother, or as she was known to me – Momu. The poem is centred around my Momu and the history and knowledge she possessed. It was a reminder of the importance of passing down oral stories and the brutal realisation of how fast they are disappearing. ‘Portal to the Past’ acknowledges the women in our history, the matriarchs in our lives and the vital role they play in the maintenance of our culture and languages. A poem to be spoken with the softness of a sea breeze and the power of the matriarchs – this poem is a dedication toe all of our ancestors and elders, who saw centuries of change in their lifetimes. This poem is a tribute to one of my greatest teachers and dearest loved ones – my Momu.”

Melanie Mununggurr’s Portal to the Past is a snippet of a larger poem that hangs high above the Eastern Apron on Cockatoo Island and across the Cockatoo Island office building at the Ferry dock, greeting visitors with words that remind us of the immense change that has occurred in just a few generations. The work connects personal familial history with a collective narrative of proud and powerful women. Melanie Mununggurr is a Djapu mother, writer, poet and spoken word artist. Melanie writes in both English and Dhuwal (Yolngu Matha dialect) about identity, family, autism and various social issues. She is also an advocate for raising autism awareness. Melanie weaves Dhuwal throughout some of her writing as a way of decolonising literature and the arts.