Community Art is an inspiring vehicle for building bridges and trust between Noongar and Wadjella (non-Aboriginal) people. It is also a powerful medium for sharing both cultural and environmental knowledge. The process of the creating the art works is inspirational and educational, and the outcomes go on to form part of a community exhibition that tours centres around the South West, as well as providing a wonderful backdrop to community and landcare events.
The Gondwana Connections Art Program brings together culture, art and the environment. Since 2010, Green Skills helped run eco-camps, youth art and community art collaborations, bringing together Noongar Elders, artists and family members with Wadjella people, creating and exhibiting large paintings about country. The paintings represent deep connections to Boodja, the Land. These events have allowed Noongar Elders, artists and others in their family units to express their views and to articulate their connection to country. This has provided valuable insights into understanding Noongar spiritual connectiveness to the land and demonstrates a more authentic approach to the Reconciliation process.
A key to progress has been the cultivation of long-term friendships and partnerships with Noongar elders, Aunty Carol Pettersen and Uncle Eugene Eades. Other partnerships enabling success of the program have been with Poornarti Aboriginal Tours, The Butter Factory Studios, the Vancouver Art Centre and the various Community Resource Centres in the Great Southern. Important locations along this journey are places of eco- healing in the landscapes surrounding Koi Kyeunu-ruff, (Stirling Ranges), including Balijup, Mt Trio Bush Camp, Nowanup, Wilyun Pools Farm and Wilson Inlet, Denmark.
Exhibition openings and associated cross-cultural forums have now been held in Albany, Denmark, Walpole, Northcliffe, Manjimup, Cranbrook, Ongerup, Katanning and Perth. When not on tour, the paintings are displayed and housed at the Gondwana Link office in Albany.
The Gondwana Connections art exhibition brought together seven large art works created by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists in south coast Western Australia. These art works connect to the environments around the Stirling Ranges (Koikyennuruff) with a special focus on the cultural significance of lakes to Noongar people. A film based on the opening of this stunning exhibition held on 19th June 2017 at the Vancouver Arts Centre in Albany, WA has been produced. View the film here.
This is a Green Skills project. For further information contact Basil Schur at Green Skills, Denmark.
Funding support, both financial and in kind, has come from many sources including participating artists, the Community Resource Centre network, arts and environmental groups, CANWA, Lotterywest, Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, WA Government’s State NRM program, local councils and many individual volunteers.