• Uncle Paul Constable Calcott painting his work of art (Moonshaker Media)Source: Moonshaker Media
The artwork depicts the journey the Royal Commissioners took in gathering information from those with disabilities and incorporates a new symbol for disabled community members.
Madeline Hayman-Reber

5 May 2020 - 2:28 PM  UPDATED 5 May 2020 - 2:28 PM

Wiradjuri artist and lifelong disability advocate, Uncle Paul Constable Calcott, has depicted the Disability Royal Commission story in a spectacular new work of art.

Mr Calcott has lived with a disability for most of his life after he contracted polio when he was just 18 months old. He now works for the First Peoples' Disability Network, undertaking a lot of work to create culturally appropriate materials for mob with disabilities, and carers.

This inspired his new work, titled Respectful Listening, which illustrates the journey the seven Commissioners took across Australia to speak with those who have disabilities in a unique way.

"The background is all different colours representing the hinterlands and the desert regions, the salt water people and freshwater people, desert people and all the different communities and the Royal Commission travelling across all these communities and lands to try and meet as many people as possible and people have the opportunity to tell their stories," Mr Calcott told NITV News.

He used the symbol for Elders to depict the Commissioners, and crafted his own symbol to depict those with disabilities sitting down with them and telling their stories.

"That's a symbol like we use the U shape to represent people, because that's the shape you leave in the sand after sitting down having a yarn. So the symbol of the spring is a U shape surrounding another smaller U shape depicting someone who is nurturing and protecting and teaching," Mr Calcott explained.

"We have no word for disability in our language, so I developed a symbol where it's a U shape that's a little bit shorter on one side, representing someone like me got a crook leg, you'll leave a different shape in the sand from somebody else."

The work is now being turned into an animation with a narration over the top, telling the story of how they're coming together.

"To me, it's just a great opportunity and a privilege and an honour to be able to translate disabilities and services and support in to our language and I'm very proud that I had the opportunity to do that," Mr Calcott said.

The work has been praised by Commissioners, who say they have been deeply moved by the beautiful depiction of their roles.

"Uncle Paul has captured the essence of the Commission’s responsibilities more powerfully than mere words," Chair of the Royal Commission Ronald Sackville AO QC said.

‘We hope that his wonderful painting will inspire people with disability, particularly First Nations people, to tell us their stories."

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