For Indigenous Australian artist Saretta Fielding, NAIDOC Week 2016 will be one to remember. Her artwork ‘Konara Clan’ was the star exhibit of a national Indigenous art exhibition at NSW Parliament House, she met NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Leslie Williams, and was presented with the exhibition’s top honour by none other than 2015 NAIDOC Artist of the Year Daren Dunn.
Saretta, a Wanaurah woman from the Upper Hunter Valley, beat emerging Indigenous Australian artists from all over the country to win the 2016 MAX Employment National Indigenous Art Competition, with her work being exhibited alongside twenty other finalists at NSW Parliament house.
According to Daren Dunn, art is an especially important part of NAIDOC Week celebrations taking place around Australia this week. Art is a huge part of Indigenous Australian culture and storytelling, he said, with exhibitions like the MAX National Indigenous Art Competition playing an important part of celebrating the diversity and culture of Indigenous Australia.
“To be able to support and connect young artists with things like this, I’m proud to see events like this give Indigenous Artists a platform to grow from. I’ve been through it, and the small stepping stones given to artists become big stepping stones,” he said.
MAX Employment Managing Director Deborah Homewood agrees with Daren’s sentiment, adding, “It was great to be able to grow this initiative and celebrate Indigenous Australian culture. It’s important that we help change mindsets and promote positive attitudes towards Indigenous culture. This event is a fantastic, creative way to do exactly that.”
Saretta says she is passionate about promoting the richness and diversity of her culture through art, and this kind of support for Indigenous Australian communities is vital for reconciliation.
“For me this event is about celebrating our culture and inviting the wider community to be a part of that with us. When that happens it really allows people to take that journey together and have a greater understanding across cultures.”
The 2016 MAX Employment National Indigenous Art Exhibition is on at NSW Parliament Fountain Court Gallery from now until July 22, 2016. For more information about NAIDOC events in your area, go to NAIDOC.org.au
Image caption: 2016 MAX Indigenous Art Competition Winner Saretta Fielding with NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Hon. Leslie Williams MP