Just like hundreds of singular painted dots by an indigenous artist on a board or canvas come together to project a bigger picture, so to do two exhibitions at Wollongong Art Gallery.
The stories and teachings of First Nation's peoples from the Illawarra and beyond are currently being told through paint on canvas, photography, sculpture and a chair saved from the waste bin.
"Chair" is a work by Beatrix Rowe, "a re-purposing of the forgotten and a reclaiming of the waste and mistakes we have made on local Dharawal land".
It's part of the HERE+NOW exhibition, showcasing up-and-coming creatives who are trying to break into the arts world - curated by Ngugi artist and scientist, Stephanie Beaupark.
Miss Beaupark normally specialises in textile installation work, but has chosen not to include herself in the show which runs until the end of the month, so to allow other unrepresented artists to share their stories.
She purposefully chose emerging indigenous and non-indigenous artists to be placed around the Sredersas and Mercury galleries, to "uplift" indigenous voices from the artists themselves and their "allies".
"Being an ally is really important and using your voice to uplift others is one of the most important things people could do ... to uplift indigenous perspectives and voices," Miss Beaupark said.
Through art and science, Miss Beaupark's passion is sustainability and getting back to basics, or "decolonisation" - the theme of the exhibition.
She believes looking to the stories from First Nation's people and their heritage is important in building society's future and environment for generations to come.
Miss Beaupark is also impassioned for traditional art practices of using natural products - like clay and eucalyptus leaves - to create organic paints and dyes.
Meantime, hanging upon the walls of the Mann-Tatlow gallery, is the wisdom handed down through the Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation.
"Keeping culture alive" showcases the work of seven artists, from Illawarra elders (like Lorraine Brown and Narelle Thomas) down to teenagers.
Aunty Lorraine said the exhibition, which runs until next March, reinforces a love for First Nations art as well as keeping it relevant, and "giving younger artists a go".
"Our main interest here is keep our culture alive through the art - dance, arts, stories," she said.
Once blasted for using colours of vivid blues because they weren't "traditional", Aunty Lorraine said they way the art is produced and the stories they tell were authentic to the coastal people of the Illawarra.
"Culture honours our ancestral ties - culture tells us where we come from and tells us who we are," Aunty Lorraine and her Coomaditchie sisters wrote in the exhibition catalogue.
"Culture reminds us of who we are connected to and that we are part of the oldest living cultures in the world. For these reasons it is really important to keep culture alive."
Here+Now: A decolonist visualisation of the Illawarra is on exhibition until November 29.
Coomaditchie: Keeping culture alive is on exhibition until March 21, 2021.
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