Disclaimer: this article features images of a sexual and explicit nature, and contains adult themes.
In December 2017, Australia voted 'yes' to same-sex marriage. This historical vote for marriage equality is being celebrated, reflected on and even critiqued in a new exhibition Luscious All Sorts: Love Won at Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-Op in Leichardt, Sydney.
Curated by Kyra Kum-Sing, the exhibition is a part of the gallery's annual Mardi Gras exhibition. And this year, features a diverse range of artists and their interpretation of the theme 'Love Wins', presented in a mix of mediums in both contemporary and traditional styles.
Speaking to NITV, Kum-Sing said that while the theme is in relation to marriage equality success for LGBTQI peoples in Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples still a way to go in order to be equal. This proves an interesting discussion for the Indigenous LGBTQI community, who have reached a celebratory milestone in recognition of their sexual preference, but are still fighting for rights on behalf of their culture and background.
"There are so many issues that we face on a daily basis, from high rates of incarceration, health, land rights and native titles, and many more issues that still need to be addressed," she said.
Kum-Sing says it's important to keep up with traditional practices like sharing stories through art to maintain connection to dreaming. "We strive in continuing our cultural practices in the form of the Arts. This is big part of our traditional storylines and has been for many generations before me. It’s important for us, as Aboriginal peoples and NSW Aboriginal Language groups to maintain our connection to our dreaming stories and family bloodline."
Kum-Sing adds that our art is what gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a voice. "This is continuing on our lines for the next generations of and for our existence. I believe the Arts helps our people with giving them a voice to tell their stories for the world to see and an understanding of many issues of inequality that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples face in Australia today."
All of the seventeen artists showcasing have different interpretations of what love and equality means to them.
Artist Peta-Joy Williams who has two works featured in Love Won, a solo work and one as part of a collaboration, and says that just being part of the exhibition that celebrates equality is an honour.
"'Love winning' is about people finally being treated equal. We need to remember that is not all that long ago that 'a half caste' - and I hate that term - woman was not allowed to marry a “full blooded” Aboriginal man. People weren’t allowed to marry who they loved, it’s just a pity we had to vote on something so obvious. Who another person marries has no contribution to they way another person lives. Love should always win."
Williams tells NITV that her artwork is a story about freedom. "It’s about Freedom to love whomever you love. It shows the fight of generations moving towards equality. The long road traveled to 'yes'. It’s also me loosening up on my art style and just letting it flow without being precise as I usually tend to do with my art."
The Luscious All Sorts: Love Won officially opens this Friday 23 February at 6pm by Indigenous LGBTQI advocate, Casey Conway. It will include special performances by Dreamtime Divas, Dawn Daylight and Destiny Haz Arrived.
Featured artists include, Arone Meeks, Luke Close, Jenny Fraser, Jeffrey Samuels, Ella Bancroft, Jasmine Sarin, Maurice Shipp, Peta-Joy Williams, Graeme Walker, Jessica Johnson, Jai Walker, Hayley Pigram, Peter Waples-Crow, Wild Burra Co, Bianca Cruse, Lesley Yasso and curator, Kyra Kum-Sing.
The exhibition runs 23 February - 1 April at Boomalli Aboriginal Art Gallery, 55-59 Flood St, Leichhardt. The exhibition is supported by CreateNSW, Inner West Council and ACON.
Documentary Black Divaz will air on NITV (Channel 34) on Thursday 1 March at 8.30pm. Catch up available On Demand. Join the conversation #BlackDivaz
SBS will have an encore telecast of Black Divaz following its broadcast of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’s 40th anniversary on Sunday 4 March at 11pm.
Black Divaz will also be screening at Queer Screen’s 25th Mardi Gras Film Festival on Wednesday 28 February.