Words by Danielle Coombes
Jasmine Bennett and Glen Mackie, two talented Indigenous artists have created vibrant pieces for Services Australia. Through their unique techniques and designs inherited from their families, they have crafted artwork that symbolises progress and embodies Services Australia’s commitment to enhancing service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clientele.
Jasmine Bennett, a Kamilaroi and Dunghutti artist residing on Gumbaynggir land, seamlessly weaves together symbols from her heritage to tell a powerful story of growth and development. Jasmine’s artwork (displayed above) draws inspiration from her mother's encouragement to explore their Indigenous roots. The radiant sun shines upon our journey, lighting our path forward, while a dynamic purple timeline gracefully connects us from one point to the next, representing our progress.
In a beautiful display of consultation and respect, Ms. Bennett sought permission from Gambaynggirr Elder, Uncle Tony, to incorporate the meeting place symbol, a special motif representing people coming together. As the purple storyline flows, the meeting places expand, symbolising the connections within our community and with one another. The artwork also features seashells—the pipi and the turnip shell—representing the nourishing bush tucker shared during meetings, as well as a connection to the sea. Gum leaves and gum flowers stand opposite the seashells, reminding us of our bond with the land that accompanies us throughout our lives. Ms Bennet stated that she hopes “Indigenous people will see this artwork and go 'oh, I know what that is, that's part of me'."
(National Indigenous Times. June 30 2023)
Glen Mackie, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artist residing on Yidinji Country, carries forward the wisdom and designs passed dow by his grandmother and grandfather. He understands that these designs are not his alone but belong to his people. Mr. Mackie's artwork features a captivating collection of Torres Strait Islander symbols and patterns, each holding its own significance. Herons represent both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, while the wave pattern beneath them signifies the power of dialogue and communication. The triangles, nestled between sets of ‘E’ symbols, represent men and women, signifying the value of teaching and learning from one another. The weaving pattern embodies the Torres Strait Islander tradition of sitting on a mat, sharing knowledge about family and culture.
Together, Jasmine Bennett and Glen Mackie's artistry paints a vivid picture of collaboration and unity. Their artworks represent the importance of consultation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.
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