By Sereima Tarogi
“Tradition and culture create an integral part of who we become and how we pass this narrative to our children. It links us to our past and transports us to now, today. Bringing the old ways to a contemporary forum that speaks to our link to our Ancestors, bringing it to an evolutionary viewpoint. ” – Artist Kim Healey
Hidden away in Sydney’s ‘Little Italy’ in Leichhardt, the Boomalli Artists Co-operative is one of Australia’s longest-running Aboriginal owned and operated art galleries. The word Boomalli is derived from three different language groups in NSW and means ‘to strike; to make a mark’.
On Saturday October 11 the gallery launched The NSW Aboriginal Women’s Collective exhibition Our Culture Our Compass. It features works from Collective members Kim Healey, Bronwyn Bancroft, Euphemia Bostock, Tracey L. Bostock, Leeanne Hunter, Danielle Gorogo, Shirley Amos, Charmaine Davis, Jessica Birk, Deborah Taylor, May Hinch, Leonie Binge, Carmel Richardson and Joy Duncan.
From A Journey Travelled (Bronwyn Bancroft) and Web of Existence (Shirley Amos), to Fishing with the Ancestors (Kim Healey), all of the artists’ works are unique and engaging on their own. The artists use modern mediums such as metal, photography, graphic design, and acrylics on paper and bisque pottery, and together they weave a spellbinding narrative of tradition, culture, and the past. These conversations aren’t new, but the mediums in which they’re communicated give Our Culture Our Compass a contemporary feel.
During the course of the afternoon guests at the exhibition’s launch – regardless of ethnicity, age or gender – are asked to make a circle for a cleansing smoke ceremony. As the smoke engulfs the audience it becomes clear that the messages in this narrative are not just important for the Aboriginal community, but for all Australians’ sense of identity.
“Tradition and culture create an integral part of who we become and how we pass this narrative to our children.” Kim Healey said. “It links us to our past and transports us to now, today.
“When our country’s leader claims that this land was ‘unsettled or, um, scarcely settled’ before British colonisation, the point of translating the old ways to a contemporary forum … bringing it to an evolutionary viewpoint becomes more necessary.”
Our Culture, Our Compass runs from Saturday 11th October until Sunday 23rd November 2014, at Boomalli Aboriginal Arts Co-Operative, 55/51-59 Flood St, Leichhardt. Entry is free.
Featured image: Women at campsites, by May Hinch. Photo by Sereima Tarogi