Reconciliation And Celebration Through art
Founded in 2011 by internationally renowned photographer, Russell James, the story of Nomad Two Worlds harkens back to Russell’s upbringing in Western Australia. After developing a successful and celebrated career in commercial photography, he felt compelled to explore the fraught nature of his Australian roots. Russell struggled with the lack of communication and understanding between non-indigenous Australians and the native Aboriginal communities who so treasure their ancestral land.
As a young man, Russell had traveled to visit his policeman father at his post in Derby, a remote part of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Approximately half of Derby’s population is made up of Australians of Aboriginal descent. But when Russell and his father arrived at a local pub to escape the desert heat, he noticed for the first time that there were separate bars for indigenous and non-indigenous patrons. Russell had grown up in a suburb of Perth, taught both explicitly and subliminally by mainstream society to fear and distrust the indigenous traditions held on that land.
But glimpses of surviving indigenous culture caught his curiosity. The Nomad Two Worlds Foundation was sparked by Russell’s personal commitment to employing the arts as a medium for cross-cultural dialogue that would promote understanding between the varied overlapping practices of indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. In the spirit of this collaborative conversation, Russell James and artist Clifton Bieundurry of the native Australian Walmajarri community set out to develop the Nomad Two Worlds Foundation's first creative project.
Russell had visited Clifton and his family on Walmajarri land, where he was welcomed into the community by a respected elder – and Clifton’s mother – Olive Knight. Clifton and Russell worked hard to determine the best kind of artistic collaboration to bridge their two worlds. When Ali Franco, Creative Director of the NTW Foundation, overlaid one of Russell’s portrait photographs with a sample of Clifton’s art, they saw how Clifton’s traditional style of painting told stories around Russell’s striking photographs. It was the birth of an entirely new collaborative artwork that was incomplete without each artist’s unique contribution.
Russell and Clifton’s collaborative works have since sparked many artistic partnerships through the Nomad Two Worlds Foundation. In turn, the Foundation's international art show inspired many influential and notable individuals to support the foundation’s mission, including Hugh Jackman, Richard Branson, and Donna Karan. Around the world, the Nomad Two Worlds Foundation and its many supporters work to further promote this collaborative artistic conversation, building a bridge of understanding between marginalized and mainstream societies, ancient and contemporary traditions, and indigenous and non-indigenous communities.
To find out more about the work that the Nomad Two Worlds Foundation is doing, sign up for our monthly newsletter for updates from our global community. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and via our YouTube Channel to see us in action. The Nomad Two Worlds Foundation blog is where our tribe gathers – visit us there to stay in the loop with our collaborative artists and read news and updates from the communities we work with all around the world.