Sunday, July 31, 2011

Exploring My Heritage Through Art

I found it a little sad when my father was blocked by some of the older great uncles while he was researching our family tree. Grim faced, they warned him off, told him not to stick his nose where it didn’t belong. There was no dark secret, no skeleton in the closet, no mass murdering psychopath to discover. 

The ‘big secret’ was, my great grandmother was aboriginal. I think those great uncles would have preferred the mass murderer. That is the saddest part.

Personally, I’m proud to acknowledge my aboriginal heritage. Frankly, it wasn’t that much of a surprise. You only have to look at great grandma’s photograph. (I’ll have to get a copy from my mother) The other unfortunate thing about the ‘big secret’ is that we missed out learning about a whole part of our culture.

My family are experiencing that learning now in our own separate ways. My brother is attending an aboriginal studies course; my mother and sister are getting involved through my niece’s school, while I am exploring my heritage through art.

The idea came after being asked to design and help the children at the local primary school paint an aboriginal style mural. I like traditional aboriginal style paintings but I also love painting in my own ‘fine art’ style. So, I decided to try incorporating both styles together – the same subject matter in both styles.
The first painting in this ‘Cross-Culture’ series is titled “Turtle Tides.”

And I’m planning on doing a goanna next as the goanna is the totem of the Wiradjuri people, to which I belong.

Other subjects I’d like to paint are the kookaburra, koala, magpie and frog. I’m looking for traditional stories relating to each of the animals I paint to help me better understand my heritage.

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