Bright Futures: An Art Collection

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Bright Futures: An Art Collection

‘Wannik’ is a Gunai/Kurnai word meaning learning together. This is exactly what occurs when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island students come together at Newcomb Secondary College for their Wannik group. Whilst they do the usual school work, improving their literacy and numeracy, they also discuss their culture and identity and create works of art which reflect these connections to their culture.
‘Bright Futures’ is an exhibition of these works which spans many mediums as well as meanings. From acrylic dot-painting, handprints and footprints, to totem poles, glass mosaics and a hand-woven fibre sculpture, the pieces embody the identity of each group member. Researching and creating the artwork enhances their broader cultural understanding. Many themes are explored through the artwork, such as reconciliation and what it is to be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island teenager in 2014.
A major piece commissioned this year commemorates the Australian Red Cross’ centenary year and the 2014 NAIDOC Week theme of Serving Country, ‘Centenary and Beyond’. This piece involved the group researching Indigenous men and women’s service, both on the world war stage and during the frontier wars. The research resulted in a poem about the students’ feelings about what they learned. This was then translated into Wathaurong language and features in the triptych.
Many of the artworks that are exhibited have previously been proudly displayed in Geelong Gallery, Whittington Flamefest, Geelong Library and the Regional Department of Education Office.
The Wannik group is currently looking for sponsorship to continue into 2015. Without funding they will be unable to continue their current literacy and numeracy program which is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for young Indigenous people. The artwork has played an integral part in this program, often engaging students at risk of disengaging from school. Having a creative outlet has been a fantastic way of promoting Indigenous culture, pride and identity.
The Bright Futures artworks are currently showing in the Potato Shed, Drysdale until September 30. The exhibition will continue at Courthouse ARTS in Geelong from the 2nd of October through to the 11th of October, with a launch on Saturday, October 4.