The Kimberley by Philip Samartzis

National Gallery of Victoria presents an online digital collage of works created by Philip Samartzis during his residencies with Tura

These sound compositions by Philip Samartzis were produced from raw material recorded during three residencies in the Kimberley region of northern Western Australia.

Hear the diverse soundscapes of these three regions paired with artworks from the National Gallery of Victoria Collection by artists from these regions.

2010 on the Dampier Peninsula with the Communities of Djarindjin, Lombadina, and Ardyaloon (One Arm Point) – Bardi

2011 Warmun – Warmun Art Centre – Gija

2012 Kununurra – Waringarri Aboriginal Arts – Miriwoong

The full collection can be found at the National Gallery of Victoria.

The Kimberley

These compositions emerge from a series of residencies facilitated by Tura’s Regional Residency Program to afford new encounters with the Kimberley through the deep listening practices of Indigenous people in communities of the Dampier Peninsula, Warmun and Kununurra. The sounds comprising these compositions are recorded across a vast and spectacular landscape featuring abundant wildlife, stark habitat, settlements, and decaying infrastructure. A raw beauty radiates throughout this topography of dreams in which standard notions of time and space become entangled with oppressive heat and humidity to engender a densely textured atmosphere. Here listening is used by Indigenous people to register seasonal transformations, migratory patterns, social interactions, and alterations in landscape ecology.

While the Kimberley is widely celebrated for its remarkable natural splendour, there is another side expressed through pervasive wildfire, abandoned homesteads, and mountains of mine tailings that complicate the experience of Country. Anthropogenic sound produced by rusting fences, corrugated sheds, forlorn windmills, and conveys of road trains however are as important to its overall acoustic ecology as the Brolga, Jabiru or the Green Tree Frog.

The sounds selected for these compositions are informed by many conversations with Indigenous people in communities from across the region. They spoke with delight of the sound of the Boab and Rain Tree, and in awe of helicopters flying across Country, and with horror of the flood that destroyed Warmun in 2011. To the communities of the Kimberley, sound is a powerful signifier of place and an acute way of remembering. Listening with sensitivity provides a complex way to experience a profound spiritual presence resonating across time and space, and echoing back within the multitude of deteriorating canyons and valleys of this astonishing place.

– Philip Samartzis

Sound Recordist: Philip Samartzis
Sound Recordist: Madelynne Cornish

All through and as part of Tura New Music’s Regional and Remote Residency program.

Philip Samartzis

Philip Samartzis is a sound artist, scholar, and curator with a specific interest in the social and environmental conditions informing remote wilderness regions and their communities. Samartzis is an Associate Professor within RMIT School of Art, and the artistic director of the Bogong Centre for Sound Culture.


Associated organisations
The National Gallery of Victoria
Waringarri Aboriginal Arts 
Warmun Art Centre
The Bogong Centre for Sound Culture

In carrying out these projects with Indigenous communities, Tura and the artists acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands visited respectively being the Bardi, Gija and Miriwoong people, their ongoing connection to and care of the land and honour their Elders past, present and emerging.

For these residency projects, Tura partnered with, and thanks, the Djarindjin, Lombadina, and Ardyaloon Aboriginal Corporations, Warmun Art Centre, Warmun Community Inc, and Waringarri Aboriginal Arts.

The Residencies were supported by State Government of Western Australia through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, and The Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding advisory body as well as Healthway.

Banner image | Churchill Cann Red Butte 2013