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More than a Fish Kill

Two beloved rivers and more than 30 million dead fish brought artists, scientists and First Nations custodians together to turn ecological disasters into a journey of cultural healing.

More than a Fish Kill is an inspiring short-form documentary (38 mins) exploring how artists, fisheries managers and First Nations custodians came together in the aftermath of devastating fish kills along the Barka (Darling River) in far western New South Wales. These unlikely collaborators undertook a remarkable journey, turning these devastating ecological disasters into catalysts for cultural healing and revival. More than a Fish Kill shares how art, science and ancient knowledges were interwoven in the spirit of care, revealing new possibilities for honouring our places and communities in this time of environmental change.

Co-produced by the National Museum of Australia, the Cad Factory and Otis Filley Studios.

Trailer

Trailer

Artists

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Barbara Quayle

Barbara Quayle is a Ngnugu of the Barkindji/Malyangapa language groups living in the small community of Menindee, on the Barka (Darling River) and surrounded by Wontanella (Place of Many Waters). She is passionate about her culture and heritage and represents her community in many ways.  Barbara sits on the Barkindji Native Title Board and the Elders Council at Kinchega National Park. She is a strong advocate for water management and environmental matters affecting future generations. For Barbara, water is what helps keep people connected to Country and especially to each other. Barbara is also a jewellery artist.

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Cheryl Blore

Cheryl Blore is a Barkindji/Wilyakali Elder from Menindee NSW. She was employed at the Menindee School for many years and would attend art classes with the students, learning from Rick Ball. Cheryl has been collaborating with her sister Cindy Bates and fellow Elder Barbara Quayle to paint protest signs to share with people the unprecedented environmental changes that are occurring to the Barka River. This water source holds significant importance within Barkindji culture. If the land is sick, then the people are sick. The health of the Barka (Darling) River impacts the mental health of all Barkindji people. 

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David Doyle

David Doyle is a Barkindji and Malyangapa man from Menindee, New South Wales, and his roots are deeply entwined with the Baaka (Darling River). He currently lives and works in Broken Hill. David serves on the Menindee Aboriginal Elders Council as proxy for his mother and on an advisory board for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, where he advocates for sustainable water management practices. He is an artist whose primarily sculptural works emphasise Barkindji culture and his community’s bond with the land and water. He also owns and operates ‘Wontanella’, a cultural tourism business based in Menindee, whose name means ‘many waters’ in his language. David says that, ‘as a member of the Barkindji - the river people - I embody the spirit of a river person, dedicated to preserving and revitalising our natural heritage for future generations’.

Artists
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Neville Bamblett

Neville Bamblett is a proud Wiradjuri/Yorta Yorta man and was previously the Operations Officer of the Narrandera Clontarf Academy. He is currently based in Albury, NSW.

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John Ingram

John Ingram  is a proud Wiradjuri man and Director of the Narrandera Clontarf Academy at Narrandera High School.

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Matthew McLellan

Matthew McLellan is a Senior Fisheries Manager based at Narrandera Fisheries Centre, NSW Department of Primary Industries. Matt is passionate about Australian waterways and acquatic ecosystems and was involved in the rescue of 20 Murray Cod, 24 Silver Perch and 17 Golden Perch from the Barka (Darling) River in 2019, taking them back to Narrandera on Wiradjuri Country, in order for the fish to heal, and eventually breed.

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Kirsten Wehner

Dr Kirsten Wehner is the James O. Fairfax Senior Fellow in Culture and Environment at the National Museum of Australia. Kirsten is a curator, artist and writer whose work centres on transforming people’s relationships with the more-than-human world. Her current projects focus on how creative practices can help us live better with waterways. Kirsten is the co-author/editor of 'Living with the Anthropocene: Love, loss and hope in the face of environmental crisis' (New South, 2020) and 'Curating the Future: Museums, communities and climate change' (Routledge, 2016).

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Otis Filley

Otis Filley is a filmmaker and journalist who was compelled to document the Darling-Baaka River's condition following the 2019 Menindee fish kill events. Over four years, he reported on its degradation while fostering relationships in Menindee, Wilcannia, and Broken Hill. Through his work, Otis has raised crucial regional issues to national prominence. Specializing in in-depth visual storytelling, he believes in the transformative power of narratives rooted in intimate connections with subjects and a deep understanding of the unfolding stories.

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Vic McEwan

Dr Vic McEwan is a contemporary artist whose practice involves sound, photography, video, installation and performance. His work explores socially engaged and site-specific art, with a deep interest in the creation of cross-sector partnerships. Vic is the Artistic Director of the Cad Factory, an artist-led contemporary arts organisation based in Narrandera, NSW, and with a satellite studio in Sydney. He sits on the Arts and Health Network NSW/ACT and is a board member of Music NSW. Vic was recently awarded his PhD from the University of Sydney, becoming the first artist to graduate from the Faculty of Medicine and Health.

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Sarah McEwan

Sarah McEwan is the Creative Producer of the Cad Factory. She has been working and volunteering at the Cad Factory since 2006. She likes to time‑travel through the past in order to learn from what has happened before and to understand, navigate and create the world she wants and needs in the present and the future. In the spirit of ethically engaged practices, she values community, collaboration, gentleness and embracing differences.

Screenings

Screenings

12 August 2024: 11th Australian Stream Management Conference & Awards Gala

4 July 2024: University of Sydney with the Sydney Environment Institute, Sydney Health Ethics and National Museum of Australia

28 February 2024: Bath Spa University, England to their eARTh art education and environmental research group

15 October 2023: National Museum of Australia for their River Country Community Day

Keep an eye out for more screening dates in 2024 in Menindee, Wilcannia, Broken Hill, Narrandera, Hay, Tamworth and Moree.

If you would like to screen More than a Fish Kill, please contact either:

Sarah McEwan on sarah@cadfactory.com.au

Kirsten Wehner on Kirsten.Wehner@nma.gov.au

Media

Media

2023: Australian Water Association: New documentary showcases collaborative efforts to heal from Barka fish kills

2023: ABC RN Big Ideas: More than a fish kill — how a bunch of boys healed a scientist and found themselves

Documentation

More than a Fish Kill was co-produced by the National Museum of Australia, the Cad Factory and Otis Filley Studios. Copyright the National Museum of Australia, 2024.

Documentation photographs: Jaqueline Cooper, courtesy of the National Museum of Australia.

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