Opportunity to embrace Aboriginal culture

Maitland and Cessnock youth, along with their parents, are being encouraged to take part in an innovative art program commencing this Sunday at Cessnock Regional Art Gallery.

As part of the program participants will learn about Aboriginal culture, symbolism, interpretation and the art and history of Wonnarua land and will be assisted to create unique artworks using Indigenous art techniques.

Now in its fifth year, the program aims to strengthen the bond between parents, carers and young people whilst providing a shared experience of culture and art education.

Program organiser, Kylie Pratt of CatholicCare Social Services, has said it is a popular program with many participants coming back year after year.

“The free program is casual and fun and a great way for people to learn Indigenous art techniques,” Ms Pratt said.

“The results from previous years’ programs have been tremendous. Before enrolling in the program some children knew they were Aboriginal, but didn't want to identify as being Indigenous. However, after being involved in the program, they took pride in their Aboriginality and started doing Welcome to Country at their schools. They really began to embrace their culture.”

In honour of the founding facilitator’s legacy this year’s program, themed ‘Tell Me Your Story,’ will be led by his daughter, respected Indigenous artist Lesley Elvin. Like her father, Lesley is keen to pass on her knowledge of traditional art techniques to Hunter families.

Ms Elvin developed her appreciation for Aboriginal art from her father, who spent years researching and gathering symbolic references from the local Aboriginal community and even as far away as Western Australia.

The program is hosted by CatholicCare Social Services in conjunction with the Cessnock Regional Art Gallery and is funded by the Department of Family and Community Services.

Non-indigenous families who are interested in learning this art form are welcome to attend.

To find out more or to secure your spot in the program, E KPratt@catholiccare.org.au or P Kylie on 4015 2800 or 0409 921 083. RSVP is essential before Thursday 26 May.

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Lizzie Watkin Image
Lizzie Watkin

Lizzie is Team Leader Content for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.