The Illawarra is home to many emerging artists, musicians, actors and writers who contribute to the rich and vibrant culture of the region. Funding, resources and getting support continue to be an issue for these artists.
To help artists along, UOW takes part in the National Campus Band Competition to encourage local musicians to showcase their music. While art galleries throughout the region display local Aboriginal artworks, the most recent being an exhibition by Aboriginal artist Garry Jones, titled: A Work in Progress.
Indigenous artists struggle for support
Aboriginal artists within the Illawarra continue to struggle for support despite the recent announcement of a 700 square-meter Indigenous artwork for the roof of French museum, Musee du quai Branly.
Sharralyn Robinson, CEO of Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council says the issue lies with the promotion of local Indigenous art.
“We do have exhibitions from time to time but after that there isn’t a great emphasis on the expertise of local artists within the community,” she explained.
Ms Robinson further attributes this issue to the lack of support offered by local stores who sell Indigenous art from other states without providing access to local Illawarra art.
“Often people will say to me, ‘I was looking for some local artworks and I went to your tourist shop and there was overseas artwork and artworks from the Northern Territory but not much local artwork,’ ” said Ms Robinson.
Aboriginal artist and Creative Arts lecturer, Garry Jones, agrees that the Illawarra isn’t doing enough to develop local Indigenous talent.
“There are opportunities for annual community-based exhibitions around NAIDOC week and other such occasions, but what would be preferable is support for sustained professional development of artists,” explained Mr Jones.
As a way of overcoming these issues, Mr Jones and Ms Robinson suggested the Illawarra support Indigenous artists in a variety of ways.
“An annual Illawarra Prize could be a good way of developing local talent which could feed into the State and National exhibition/prize calendar,” said Jones.
Although there are many things the Illawarra community could do to support local Indigenous art, Ms Robinson believes there needs to be a higher level of involvement from larger organisations.
“Illawarra tourism and organisations like that could certainly work with the Chamber of Commerce to have a look at what access they have to local artwork,” said Ms Robinson.
She further explained how Indigenous artists lack access to funding to promote themselves and their art.
“There are organisations and government departments that have the capacity to get behind and support that promotion [of Indigenous art] within the local area,” she said.
Sadly however, Mr Jones says there are only limited options for Indigenous artists after attending educational institutions.
Words: ANNA BADDELEY
Video: LORIN REID