Dream on

January 17th, 2019
Dream on
Dreaming Stories is the latest Aboriginal-centric exhibition to feature at the Hahndorf Academy.
With over 30 different artists sharing Dreamtime stories there is a lot to learn from this two month long exhibition.
The dot paintings of self-taught artist and Ngarrindjeri woman Amanda Westley focuses on places that are significant to her life, her family and her culture.
“The Ngarrindjeri nation is surrounded by water,” she said.
“Those ocean colours are in a lot of my work.
“Something I find very common with exhibitions – especially ones that also have other people’s art – is that people are drawn to mine for the colours I use.
“They’re not traditional; they’re not dark.
“There’s lots of aqua and pinks – unusual colours that people don’t expect in dot painting.”
Even though Amanda’s work is regularly featured in galleries around the country, she still faces discrimination because of her skin colour – but not in the way you might expect.
“Because I am so fair skinned I get confronted a lot in exhibitions,” Amanda said.
“There’s always one person in the crowd that comes up to me and asks ‘You do realise you’re white don’t you?’
“It’s frustrating but at the same time it’s good because you have that chance to educate about who you are and your art.
“This is about breaking the stereotype of Aboriginal artists as only ever being dark-skinned and sitting in the central desert with a boomerang.”
Over years of practice and cultural engagement, Amanda has developed her own unique style that has helped her establish a career as an Aboriginal artist.
She is also studying at TAFE to teach the endangered Ngarrindjeri language.
A mother of two young children, Amanda laments what she perceives is a lack of nuance in the teaching of Aboriginal cultures in schools.
“Often the Dreamtime stories done at primary schools aren’t local – they’ll usually be from the Northern Territory or somewhere else entirely,” she said.
“We have different stories down here about how this land specifically was created.
“I like if kids came home from school and could point at local landmarks and say ‘I know where this came from’ or ‘I know why that place is important’.”
Bringing genuine Aboriginal art to the Hahndorf Academy is a step in the direction of Reconciliation and renewed recognition of Australia’s first peoples.
The Hahndorf Academy has collaborated with Kiri Kiri Art for the Dreaming Stories exhibition in what is the third partnership between the art organisations.
“I have brought this exhibition to other regional galleries and over time I have formed a relationship with Hahndorf Academy director Rachel McEwlee,” Kiri Kiri Art founder Helen Johnson said.
While Helen is originally from England she has spent many years working within the Aboriginal art scene.
Prior to founding Kiri Kiri Art Gallery she was the Art Centre Manager for Iwantja Arts in the APY Lands.
“I studied art here and I can’t help but appreciate Aboriginal art because I’ve never seen anything like it, it is so organic and natural – it’s world class,” Helen said.
“Every time you look at Aboriginal art – even if you cannot immediately see it – there is an underlying connection to their ancestors.”
Helen’s gallery Kirri Kirri Art in Victor Harbour has been established for five years.
In that time, she has witnessed first-hand the evolution of art from some of the world’s oldest continuous cultures.
“More and more I am seeing artists sharing their individuality rather than their place,” Helen said.
“Traditional colours and forms are still used but now they’re exploring their own ways.
“They still come from the traditions but these artists are finding their own style and colours.”
Dreaming Stories is on display until Sunday, February 10 at the Hahndorf Academy, 68 Main Street, Hahndorf.
For more information phone 8388 7250.

Back  Back

The Weekender Herald

The Weekender Herald aims to provide the best print medium for our clients to achieve the maximum exposure for their messages to our readers and their potential clients within our targeted area.

The Weekender Herald is an independent, innovative, good-news paper serving the Adelaide Hills and Mt Barker council areas. Founded in 1992, the paper is the leader in providing up-to-date, relevant lifestyle content. It seeks to maximise its appeal and relevance to readers and consumers on behalf of its advertisters.