One Love, One Family

Barngarla: Stories of Resilience

Maureen Atkinson working on Loss, Separation 44" x 72" Acrylic on Canvas Photo: Tim Molineux

One Love, One Family

Opening 12pm, Saturday October 10, 2015
October 10 — November 13, 2015
Tuesday — Friday, 9am — 5pm

Project Team
Louise Dunn: Project Manager
Tim Molineux: Project Coordinator
Heather Shearer: Lead Artist
Colleen Taylor: Assistant Artist

Participants
Maureen Atkinson
Patricia Dare
Harry Dare Snr
Stephen Atkinson
Jeanne Miller
Colleen Taylor
Debra Anne Brown
Roger Miller
Linda Dare
Candace Taylor
Kendall McKenzie
Harry Dare Jnr
Dwaylene Brown
Talisha Brown

Introduction

The One Love, One Family exhibition showcases the outcomes of the Barngarla: Stories of Resilience project that involved Barngarla people from Port Augusta, in particular the Dare family, in an innovative project that used the processes of narrative therapy and art making for individual and community healing.

Nexus Arts and the Dulwich Centre Foundation developed the initial project concept combining narrative therapy and art making. Professor Ghil’ad Zuckerman from the University of Adelaide facilitated the introduction between Nexus Arts and the Barngarla people of Port Augusta and through consultation with the community the project was developed. This is a pilot project and the Barngarla people have guided every step, helping to mould the delivery of this project as well as establishing a project framework for future communities.

Debra Anne Brown Family Tree 44" x 72" Acrylic on Canvas

Throughout the two stages of the project the elder siblings found comfort in each other’s previously untold stories of growing up removed from their family members and culture, and how they longed to reconnect with their lost siblings and parents. The inter-generational nature of the project provided an opportunity for younger generations to hear the stories of their elders and both understand their struggle and the hardships they have overcome as well as recognising the resilience and strength they have shown.

The outcomes of individual and community healing have well and truly exceeded our expectations. It has been an honour to witness a family beginning to heal and reconnect. The family recognises what they have overcome but testament to their wonderful characters they are free of anger and resentment and are focused on moving forward for the benefit of the younger generations of Barngarla.

It is with great generosity that the Barngarla people have decided to share their stories so that other communities can acknowledge the long lasting affects of being separated from culture and family and appreciate the strength of those who have risen above such hardship for the sake of their families and communities.

I would like to sincerely thank all of the community who welcomed Tim and myself into this precious space and allowed us to hear the stories and witness the healing at an individual and family level. It is an experience I will never forget and I can’t wait to see other communities be transformed through this process.

Louise Dunn
Project Manager
Executive Director of Nexus Arts

Artist Statement

The opportunity to present my Art in Healing Program to the Barngarla People through the Nexus program was to say the least, an honour.

As Aboriginal People, we have suffered the indignities of oppression and the memory of this history and ongoing repercussions has become the trans-generational trauma we have all inherited and live with today:

· Massacres, Sickness, Dispossession of our Lands, Loss of Language, Culture, Identity and ultimately, the loss of our Children…

· The changes to our Lifestyle and Diet that resulted in chronic health problems such as diabetes and renal disease…

· The introduction of Alcohol and Drugs that has become a devastating addiction…

All have been contributing factors to the planned decimation of our People that left us shell-shocked and spiralling into a path of desolation and despondency, ultimately leading many of us into a state of depression and apathy. This legacy to us, the world’s oldest surviving Cultural People, and for all the purposes of humanity, has been a crime against humanity itself.

Maureen Atkinson Tracing My Journeys 44" x 44" Acrylic on Canvas

We have our leaders, our pioneers for justice and social reform. We have our activists and our professors. We have never given up, yet our people are vanquishing in prisons, our young ones are committing suicide, and through drug and alcohol fogs, with domestic and family violence, the blight of our communities, we are killing each other.

We have a lot on our plate. We have a lot to work through. We have the desire to survive, and like the Barngarla People, we are seeking ways to change this path, and rekindle the respect and integrity within ourselves, to heal ourselves, our communities and our People as a whole.

We have long recognised the fact that we can only do this for ourselves. The ‘white man’s ways’ don’t work for them, so why would they work for us. Only through our Cultural Practices can we reignite the spirit within and reigniting is what we are doing.

Through my own personal journey as a Stolen Generations person who fought a long battle to reconnect with my family and culture, did I find a way to do this, and with the guidance, support and direction from my family and culture, Art became my way. I may not be able to speak my language, but my Art has become my voice. It grounds my identity as an Aranda woman, and it provides me a platform to identify my inner issues, express my knowledge and educate others in a tangible format that represents my truth, understanding and respect for my Culture and People. It gives me strength, heals my pain, but never denies the truth of my past, my ideas for the present or my vision for the future.

Heather Shearer Barngarla Art Workshop 12" x 16" Acrylic on Canvas

I share my story and my Art with others — to inspire them — to engage with them, and to encourage them to look to their Cultural Practices for a way to assist them find their footing in their Culture, and show the world who they are and regenerate pride in themselves, for them, their family and their future generations to come, that this will be their legacy to leave — a renewal of Culture, Identity and Pride.

I would like to thank Louise and Tim from Nexus for inviting me to be part of this project. To the Barngarla People, your welcome and acceptance of me, an Aranda woman, to share my Cultural Art Practice and work with you, is an honour I will treasure. We had some fun and laughter (a great medicine in itself) and I will always remember the pride and excitement on your faces as you produced the amazing pieces of Art that has now formed your first (but not last) Barngarla Art Exhibition.

My final comment is this: I sincerely hope that my involvement has given you all a new form of expression, and a tool to look to your inner child, to honour your elders and remember those in your family who fought and won ways to provide for their descendants…. Their legacy is yours, now define your legacy, as the future is up to you.

With love and respect,

Heather Kamarra Shearer.
21 October, 2014.

Community Comments

‘I’ve learnt more stories about my family being taken away and what they went through. I thought I was the only one suffering, but they suffered as well. It was good to be with them and draw closer I believe to the family.’
Maureen Atkinson

Patricia Dare Family Tree 12" x 16" Acrylic on Canvas

‘We just get stubborn with one another you know, when you argue and that. Doing this art together, it’s really great, we’re all getting together and doing what we’re supposed to be doing — sharing and caring.’
Patricia Dare

‘Yeah, again I’ve really enjoyed it. This is the first time I’m doing a story. Also going there and sitting down with family, having fun sitting down and sharing stories.’
Debra Brown

‘Well, I’ve enjoyed the workshops, looking at the elders; learning about their stories and explaining what happened to their stories, about their lifetime through their stories. And through their paintings, it’s really great to hear things we never heard back then you know. This is a chance to come together and share each other’s stories with one another, yeah. I’ve really enjoyed it.’
Debra Brown

‘Some of the paintings they’ve done over there, I knew a little bit about it from them telling me word of mouth, like my two grand mothers. For them to put it down on the painting, is, I don’t know… more touching, because I didn’t know that they lived life like that. It was good to see.’
Candace Taylor

‘Because of my sisters death I haven’t really painted and coming here now I want to go home and get on with it, that’s more or less what’s she’s telling me to do.’
Colleen Taylor

Collen Taylor Burst of Life 12" x 16" Acrylic on Canvas

‘With the workshops I saw more happiness with my family, especially looking at my Aunties and they put their family down, their brothers and sisters. Seeing them smiling and talking about the stories because I know for a fact my two Aunties have never done a painting before in their lives and that would have been the first time ever. It’s nice to see some of the others that have never done paintings sitting down and talking to them and asking them about their paintings and they’re sitting down telling us the story to it. The communication, the laughter, the happiness that I can see coming out of them and they were enjoying it and coming all the time. It was great healing for them.’
Linda Dare

Special Thanks

Professor Ghil’ad Zuckerman and The University of Adelaide
Bungala Aboriginal Corporation
Umeewarra Media
Dr Gilbert Caluya
Georgie Sharp (Photography)