Koori Art Expressions 2012 celebrates the Aboriginal Tent Embassy 40 years on

19 November 2012: Koori Art Expressions 2012, a highly imaginative and thoughtful selection of visual arts works created by Sydney school students from Kindergarten to Year 12, opens today at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.

Over 70 works inspired by this year’s theme for NAIDOC* Week – the Spirit of the Tent Embassy: 40 years on – showcases individual, class and whole school projects contributed by 26 schools across Sydney.

Dr Phil Lambert PSM, Sydney Regional Director, NSW Department of Education and Communities said: “The annual program aims to develop an understanding of Aboriginal culture and heritage amongst all students. This year’s selection sees a greater representation of three dimensional works, which has given students more freedom for creative and artistic expression.”

Paintings, photography, textiles, sculptures and ceramics are amongst the diverse works on show. One of the many highlights is ‘Forty celebration disks so far’ by Botany Public School (Kindergarten-Year 2). Forty clay disks feature Aboriginal symbols of fire, resting camps, men and women, strung together to mark the 40th anniversary, but allows for more disks to be added for every new year celebrated.

‘The wheel of equality’ by Banksmeadow Public School (Years 3-6), is a colourful, woven work inspired by Aboriginal basket weaving. Made using old t-shirts, it features the colours of the Australian and Aboriginal flags, creatively bound together to represent the many links that join both cultures and makes them equal in today’s society.

‘Under the beach umbrella’ by Sydney Secondary College, Balmain Campus, (students with disabilities in Years 7-10) celebrates the blue umbrella beginnings of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Beneath two umbrellas, ten small figurines form a circle in a dance to represent continuous unity and unfailing spirit.

‘Lost connection’ by Year 12 Aboriginal student, Jordan Ardler, from Matraville Sports High School, is five art works that combine photography and dot painting in a captivating collage that portrays the loss of connection to land, identity and culture experienced by the Aboriginal people.

In developing the art works, students were asked by teachers to reflect on the statement: “to move forward, we must acknowledge our forbearers, learn from their experiences and ask ourselves what their sacrifices mean to me and my family today.”

Powerhouse Museum curator of Koori history and culture, James Wilson-Miller, said: “I am so impressed by the original ideas portrayed in these works. The students have grasped a strong understanding of the roots of the Tent Embassy and thoughtfully translated its meaning in the context of Australian society today.

“The founders of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy 40 years ago would be proud of the young artistic talents showcased in this exhibition that have so beautifully captured the spirit of the Tent Embassy.”

The Tent Embassy was erected in Canberra by the Aboriginal people in 1972 to protest against a court decision over mining operations on Aboriginal land and other social issues. Many battles and struggles later, the Embassy has become a heritage-listed landmark for Aboriginal protest.

Koori Art Expressions 2012 is showing at the Powerhouse Museum until 28 January 2013.

On View: Koori Art Expressions 2012
Dates: 19 November 2012 – 28 January 2013
Address: Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo, Sydney
Telephone: (02) 9217 0111
Website: www.powerhousemuseum.com
Hours: 10.00am to 5.00pm (closed Christmas Day)
Admission: General admission $12 adult, $6 child, $8 student/ concession and $30 family. Powerhouse Museum members and children under 4 years admitted free.

*National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee. NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Media information, images or interviews:
Mandy Campbell, Powerhouse Museum, Tel: 02 9217 0551 or mandyca@phm.gov.au