Messages of things that matter

November 28, 2016

Weaving workshop at Gallery Kaiela - weaving workshop for women of different culturesMonica Phillips

Aboriginal art is the oldest ongoing tradition of art in the world with rock carvings and paintings dating back more than 30000 years.

It is an ancient visual language rich in symbolism carrying messages of things that matter.

Art was, and still is, an integral part of life a way of passing on culture and stories, exploring the dreaming and the present, conveying knowledge of the land, events and beliefs and the connections between people and country, seasons, and use of the land.

It is an assertion of identity and contributes to a sense of survival and wellbeing.

It can be joyous, serious, sacred, educational, nurturing or utilitarian.

There is an enormous variety in styles of Aboriginal art from the well-recognised dot paintings of the central desert to the ceramics of Hermannsburg and the distinctive south eastern Australian style of linear and x-ray expressions.

But the thread that connects all Australian Indigenous art is how it reflects the diversity and richness of the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait cultures throughout the country.

Here in Shepparton, our own Kaiela Arts — previously known as Gallery Kaiela — in High St provides a welcoming space that nurtures more than 80 local artists and supports the present day expressions of their living cultures.

Encompassing ceramics, wood carving, weaving, sculpture, painting, puppetry and storytelling, the artists create dynamic works that reflect their own culture and community.

They tell many tales of history, family connections, and traditions.

It’s a celebration of an ancient culture in a contemporary way.

But it’s the workshop area that’s the real heart of Kaiela Arts.

This is the community space, a place of energy, ideas, stories.

A meeting place, of old and young, experienced and new artists.

It’s also a nurturing, welcoming space with sharing, laughter and care.

So wander in.

There’s much to learn, much to absorb.


The work of emerging artists celebrating an age-old culture.

Eva’s beautifully intricate weavings.

Ponder on the long history behind these skills.

Eric’s complex stories told boldly on canvas.

Consider the richness of the visual language and symbolism and how this has been used for generations.

Jack’s masterful woodcarvings and ceramics. Reflect on old stories told in more modern ways.

Take it all in.

Celebrate the resilience of this ancient culture and how its vibrant visual language and imagery continues to enrich us all today.

Think about how our own Kaiela Arts provides us with a medium through which non-Aboriginal Australians can learn about and connect with an authentic Australian identity, with the essential spirit of this land.

At the same time, it offers a way that we can support local Aboriginal enterprises and initiatives.

The Kaiela Arts Christmas exhibition, Design Roots opens on Thursday, December 3, at 137-139 High St. It features the work of four artists influenced by the south-eastern art style given a modern twist.

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