Indigenous artworks from more than a dozen art centres are lighting up the National Carillon in Canberra this NAIDOC Week.
Sarah Collard

9 Nov 2020 - 4:37 PM  UPDATED 9 Nov 2020 - 5:27 PM

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies is partnering with artists and art centres from across Australia.

The Institute’s Chief Executive, Craig Ritchie hopes the exhibition will give all Australians a chance to recognise the unique history of First Nations peoples.

The Dhungutti and Biripi man said the nation’s capital often failed to fully showcase Indigenous Australia’s rich and vibrant history.

"This will shine a spotlight on our presence to the nation,” Mr Ritchie said.

“This is one of the icons of the Canberra landscape. If you look around the various buildings there is very little that speaks to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people national identity."

Mr Ritchie said he wanted more people to have a greater appreciation of the strength, resilience and artistry of Indigenous Australians.

“I hope people go away with a different narrative - one that is not focused on disadvantage and all of the challenges but that people have a sense of the sheer brilliance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.” 

Indigenous artists and makers are taking part in an online market with AIATSIS this NAIDOC week and after dark their designs are being beamed onto the National Carillon.

It’s part of the Indigenous Art Market now in its seventh year - which will now be a virtual marketplace due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paintings, textiles, sculptures are available from the online market with the profits going directly to the artists and their communities. 

Artist Krystal Hurst has lived in Canberra for more than a decade but she never imagined her designs would light up the nation’s capital.

"I feel really honoured and privileged to have my artwork projected here tonight and to start NAIDOC week here,” Ms Hurst said.

The artist was inspired by the coastal waters of her home - on the banks of Taree’s Manning River on the NSW North Coast.

“This painting represents the river that I grew up on and spent many moments camping, swimming and collecting our seafood with my family,” Ms Hurst said.

NAIDOC’s theme ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ has special meaning for the Worimi woman who is one of dozens of artists who are taking part in the Indigenous Art Market.

“It’s about honouring the original time that NAIDOC started and honouring those people who started NAIDOC and here we are today celebrating our stories and our culture and ensuring we can do that long into the future,” Ms Hurst said.


Kamilaroi artist, Leah Brideson said she hopes the artworks will foster a greater understanding of Indigenous culture and art - long after the exhibition ends. 

"Even passers-by can just see the importance and the history behind our work and connect with it on beautiful Ngunnawal Country and to have it on such a large platform is an incredible opportunity," she said.

"It will really give a greater depth into our cultures and histories." 

The artworks will be exhibited on the National Carillon until November 15. 

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