NAIDOC WEEK is about celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, while also encouraging the telling of personal stories.
And the Bass Coast South Gippsland Reconciliation Group recently presented local communities with Indigenous art exhibitions at Inverloch and Foster, with official openings held earlier this month.
They both included a smoking ceremony, led by Uncle Shane Clark from the Bunurong Land Council.
Mary and John Mutsaers welcome their fourth annual exhibition this year with the dedicated team from the reconciliation group.
They saw an expansion of the exhibition for 2019 to include a concurrent exhibition at the Stockyard Gallery in Foster.
“I would like to thank the organising committee of this year and of course the talented artists who continually support this showcase,” said Mary.
The 2019 exhibition has 58 artworks from 14 participating artists including Melissa McDevitt (Weston), a local resident whom was spiritually driven to the land of Inverloch.
Melissa has been painting for over 35 years, with her initial true connection with art from a mother figure during her time living in Alice Springs at the young age of 21.
Melissa, who has five children and five grandchildren, has lived in Inverloch for five years.
Some of her contemporary art is shown at the exhibition.
“I envision my art as my own technique, a visual interpretation of vibrational energy,” she said.
“My colours reveal their own interpretation, from green meaning love, orange meaning peace and gold meaning great worth,” said Melissa.
Mother and artist Safina Stewart is also showcasing her art form at the Inverloch Community Hub alongside her ten-year-old daughter, Arieta Fergie.
Arieta’s acrylic on canvas piece titled ‘We are held together’ is based on her concept of community, land and water.
It’s one of four submissions which will be showcased in several exhibitions thanks to the Bass Coast Shire’s Reconciliation Network.
“I started selling my art at the age of four when I helped mum at markets, and now I am learning to tell a story through my art,” said Arieta.
Safina is truly proud of the compassion Arieta has shown through her art, as well as Arieta’s maturity and the level of commitment to telling her story.
“Our home is a space for creativity, I have been a part of the Indigenous art exhibition for four years now and I enjoy sharing in the stories and the sense of community inclusion,” said Safina.
Safina and her family live in Wonthaggi. She is driven by art and has a connection to the coastline and the salt water.
“It gives us a sense of freedom. Art allows us to have a voice and the story helps frame our narrative,” she said.
Safina’s acrylic paintings are vibrant in colour and fluid in their line work.
Her six intricate black and white sea creatures represent the potential for understanding cross-cultural relationships.
“There is a gift in being connected and part of a greater whole. Our identity, strength and belonging flourish when our community is wholesome, durable and unified,” said Safina.
The Bass Coast South Gippsland Reconciliation Group invites peoples to share their commitment to social justice, expand their understanding of Aboriginal culture and community, and work in partnership with community organisations.
To become involved in the reconciliation group contact Marg Lynn via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the Inverloch Community Hub to grasp the stories of the displayed art.
Showcasing Indigenous artwork at Inverloch and Foster