• Nambucca heads public school set to unveil brand new mural 'where the land meets the sea'. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
This regional school in NSW is bridging the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students with traditional art.
By
Laura Morelli

Source:
NITV News
23 Mar 2018 - 7:47 AM  UPDATED 23 Mar 2018 - 11:51 AM

Located on the mid north coast, Nambucca Heads Public School is bringing the local community together with the unveiling of a new mural that celebrates Aboriginal culture.

The painting stretching an enormous 7.4m in length and 3.4m in width will be placed on an outer wall of the building to be admired by passers-by as they stroll in from town.

Finally, a year after laying the first stroke of paint to the piece, artist Keiana Bateman said she hopes to inspire youth to learn about the local Gumbaynggirr culture.

“I decided to approach the Elders for permission to paint the dreamtime story and with their blessing I was able to create a modern fusion of traditional stories,” she said.

“The symbols allow for our ancestors’ spirits to guide us through life on Gumbaynggirr country to teach, learn and practice what has been passed down from generation to generation.”

The principal and advisory committee thought the current Aboriginal art and Gumbaynggirr language teacher would be the perfect person to entrust with the task of enriching the bare wall.

The mural represents the Buga Buga Bindarray – Gumbaynggirr for ‘knee river’ – dreamtime story. It illustrates the formation of the Nambucca River where a giant man plunged his knee into the ground as he fell, creating the shape that still remains to this day.

Among the sweeping shades of blue and warm orange tones, local Nambucca animals such as dolphins, goannas, kangaroos and mullets were incorporated into the piece. The school’s Aboriginal advisory team communicator, Belinda Bateman said it was a key symbol to represent the connection between the school and the families that have come and gone from it.

“The symbols allow for our ancestors’ spirits to guide us through life on Gumbaynggirr country to teach, learn and practice what has been passed down from generation to generation,” she said.

"This mural is something that we needed at that school, it’s showing the community is connecting and it’s really made the town come a long way from where it was years ago." 

The making of the mural saw the involvement of all the school’s students, breaking down the barriers for non-Indigenous children in understanding Indigenous culture and history.

The 22-year-old artist Keiana Bateman said the display of this sacred Gumbaynggirr story in such a central part of town symbolises a huge step in the right direction for the community to embrace the nation’s first people.

“My brother dipped his feet in paint and walked across the part that represents the land to symbolise walking across Gumbaynggirr country which suggests people belong on the land,” she said.

Aunty Edrica Jarrett was the first Aboriginal student to get into Nambucca heads primary school. Her father had to fight for her to get an education there in a time where racism was ripe. Looking back more than 50 years ago, The Gumbaynggirr and Dunghutti Elder said the most important thing is keeping culture alive.

“It’s done with a lot of passion and it’s all about how the river was made and the bending of the man in the knee,” she said.

"This mural is something that we needed at that school, it’s showing the community is connecting and it’s really made the town come a long way from where it was years ago." 

Keiana who was the school’s first Aboriginal school captain says it's an honour to give back to community.

“Being able to give back to the school was something I was very proud of, as well as being able to showcase my culture which will enable my family to see our story,” she said.

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