In 2004 and 2009 a large exhibition of the work of Aboriginal artists was held at Lismore City Hall. Inspired by local doctors working in Aboriginal Medical Services, the initiative was highly successful on many fronts. There were sales of more than $50,000 for each of these exhibitions, which provided income for the participating artists as well as some profit that could be directed to further develop the local Aboriginal art industry and acquire some for equipment for the Casino AMS.

The years have passed, and the need to do more in the field of Indigenous art in this area remains pressing. In response a number of partners have come together to support an Art on Bundjalung Country event, including the NC Primary Health Network, Arts Northern Rivers, Lismore Regional Art Gallery, Bulgarr Ngaru and the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast.

The idea is for established Aboriginal artists to conduct a number of workshops for emerging artists living on Bundjalung Country from which work will be selected for an exhibition at the new Lismore Regional Gallery in December. The work will be for sale. Workshops will be held in Lismore, Brunswick Heads, Maclean, Casino, Nimbin and Tweed Heads. The art forms will include painting, basket weaving, installations, and ceramics.

It is envisaged that this will further stimulate the art industry to meet the growing market for Aboriginal work. It is hoped such work will be seen in health facilities, foyers, waiting rooms, shops and homes in the region and beyond. Marketing and promotion will be part of the project.

The benefits go well beyond the business case. Inter-generational trauma is a problem for many Aboriginal families and this can stem from past dispossession from land, language, culture and identity, along with racism and discrimination.

For healing to take place there needs to be a much better understanding of our nation’s 60,000 year history and the truth told around the overall negative impact of colonial settlement for Aboriginal people. The arts in its many forms play an important role here.

Aboriginal art is a powerful way of discovering, understanding and building respect for Goori culture. Art in all forms plays a key part in this through both visual and performing art, which includes paintings, sculpture, dance, music, story writing, theatre, film, rapping, crafts and more.

Art is one of the best therapies for healing. For many people (Aboriginal and other) suffering from major trauma leading to mental health problems art is a safe and effective way of expressing anguish and emotion using non-verbal communication. We can see many examples of this as a healing process in our community.

NCPHN’s senior project officer for this project is Bundjalung artist Sarah Bolt. She has demonstrated extraordinary leadership skills by encouraging established Bundjalung artists to become workshop facilitators. She is now encouraging emerging Aboriginal artists to attend workshops that could give them a unique opportunity to exhibit at the new Lismore Regional Gallery later this year.

Enquiries about this project can be directed to Sarah Bolt on 02 6615 8440 or 0409 322 733.

Donations to expand the scope of this project can be sent to:

Arts Northern Rivers Gift Fund
BSB: 032 573 Acc: 263 269

All donations to this account over $2 are tax deductible - a receipt will be issued after deposits are received.