Walking Together art exhibition opens discussion around Uluru Statement from the Heart

An exhibition piece by Jaine Rubaine.

THE ‘Walking Together – from Heart to Heart’ art exhibition opens at The Art Factory in Coffs Harbour on Saturday 2 September.

The exhibition is supported by the City of Coffs Harbour through its Arts and Cultural Development program and Coffs Harbour Arts Council.

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Following a successful show in Bowraville earlier in the year, the exhibition brings together paintings, sculpture and mixed media by local artists living on Gumbaynggirr and Dunghutti Country.

Artists Janet Besançon, Julie Byers, Carol Clarkson, Jaine Rubine and Lee Albert have created the exhibition as an offering of their own personal response to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

With the upcoming referendum the artists are hoping their exhibition will open up a conversation.

“We are artists not politicians, so our intent is to bring awareness to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and to prompt discussion,” Janet Besançon told News Of The Area.

Janet said the inspiration for her work was “finding a heart connection”.

“With permission from the elders I am using ochres from Gumbaynggirr country and mixing them with ochres from my ancestral country – France, producing works that show my respect and support to First Nations’ hearts.”

Another exhibiting artist, Julie Byers, told NOTA, “As a group of non-Indigenous female artists living on unceded Gumbaynggirr and Dunghutti Country we accept the gracious invitation given us by First peoples, to walk together for a better future.

“Responding through the power of creativity is our small way of adding our voice toward positive change, acknowledging that this is complex and contested terrain.”

The works in the exhibition draw from the artists’ personal experiences “of growing up or emigrating to an Australia that did not see or celebrate itself as home to the oldest living culture on earth, stretching back over 65,000 years”.

“To be truthful it has taken the Uluru Statement from the Heart for me to go away and educate myself about our shared history and to learn more about First peoples’ ways of knowing and being,” Julie said.

“My work and the work of my fellow artists for this exhibition maps this journey, from truth-telling to hope for a fairer, better future in this wonderful country we share.”

Carol Clarkson is an English-born artist who has called Australia her home for the last 40 years.

“When I arrived, I was totally ignorant of Australia’s colonial history and even more ignorant of the 50-100,000 years of First Nations history preceding it,” Carol said.

“My work uses the visual language of found object sculpture to document my responses to the confronting stories of our colonial past and current history.”

Jaine Rubine’s focus for this body of work has been on seeds.

“Seeds are a symbol of growth and new life, and I honour the tenacity and potential encapsulated in each one, at a time that requires regeneration on so many levels.

“With these works I pay my respects to the original custodians of this land and offer gratitude for the invitation extended through the Uluru Statement from the Heart.”

Landscape artist Lee Albert also shared her inspiration.

“On hearing the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the phrase ‘sovereignty is a spiritual notion…’ fixed in my mind as perfectly describing the ‘ancestral tie between the land…’ and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Sovereignty was never ceded.

“It can’t be taken by force or written out of history.

“As I have researched and tried to educate myself about our shared dark history, I acknowledge there is a depth of trauma and powerlessness unimaginable to most white Australians.”

Opening night on Saturday 2 September is at 6pm at The Art Factory in Orlando St, Coffs Harbour.


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