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Taking Their Stories to the Streets - Indigenous Art Program 2019 'Shared Connections'

BY Alicia Selby / Central Queensland University / Communication - Journalism Major | 23-May-2019
The Brisbane CBD has come alive with a dynamic outdoor art installation that celebrates 15 indigenous artists across 13 sites throughout the city, bringing stories of past, present and future to life throughout May, June and July 2019. The exhibit is part of the Brisbane City Council’s Indigenous Art Program ‘Shared Connections’ and showcases artwork from emerging and established local talent aimed at developing a deeper connection and understanding of Australia’s First Nations’ people in the wider community. #indigenousart #sharedconnections #brisbaneartanddesign #indigenousartprogram2019 @blaklash.projects
Sonja Carmichael's 'Circle of Life' installation on display in Edward St until July '19
Image c/o @blaklash.projects
The program is free of charge and presents a series of outdoor installations, projections, guided tours, workshops and public discussions curated by Blaklash Projects, a 100% indigenous owed operation that’s committed to creating positive experiences that celebrate indigenous culture.

Exhibitor, Sonja Carmichael, a passionate Quandamooka women from Minjerribah (now also known as North Stradbroke Island) has regenerated a traditional weaving technique through her artistry but uses a signature combination of materials and resources. Sonja combines natural fibres that she has gathered from the land such as reeds or yunggaire with marine debris that she recovers on the beach after it’s been either lost or discarded at sea.

She unravels her recycled material and creates new forms, merging natural fibres with collected waste to create generous expressions of care through her pieces.

“I love repurposing it”, she says when talking of the debris she finds. “It’s like going shopping seeing what has washed up on the beach, what we bring home on our morning walks is amazing.”

The idea of using a negative to get to a positive it what motivated Sonja to experiment with integrating marine debris such as washed up nets and plastics into her artwork.

“This debris, while it’s beautiful to work with it, has a huge impact on our marine life and the sacred waters of Minjerribah. It’s colourful and it can trick turtles into thinking it’s food, birds get stranded in string and plastic fibre, it’s really sad to see.” she added.

The rediscovery of traditional techniques with loops and knots and the incorporation of mission day weaving involving coiling and crocheting are both present in Sonja’s ‘Shared Connections’ project. Her unique expressions of traditional fibre artistry that gently assimilate ‘repurposed’ materials, give her work vibrance and a richly layered narrative.

Sonja’s artwork will be on display at the Edward Street vitrine until 31st July 2019.

Kane Brunjes is a young Gungarri man whose artistic journey has brought him from the country town of Murgon into the city to study the arts and exhibit his work in both public and gallery spaces. His work is displayed as a banner in Irish Lane until 31st July 2019.

Kane’s desire to discover more about himself is what drives his passion to paint.

“I started off just painting my own experiences and the feelings that I had,” he says. “Art teaches me about life, physically and mentally it’s a journey of learning and connecting,” he added.

Kane’s paintings draw on traditional styles and representation that are somewhat reinvented through a more contemporary arrangement. His poised and reflective spirit translates into thoughtful but expressive artwork.

Works from both Sonja Carmichael and Kane Brunjes, along with other exhibiting artists featured through ‘Shared Connections’ are available to view and purchase from Open House Gallery in collaboration with Blaklash Projects.

Art lovers can join a guided walking tour and learn more about the artists and artwork on display as part of the ‘Shared Connections’ program on Monday 27th May at 10:30am from Brisbane City Hall.

The gently-paced walk is pram and wheelchair accessible and will visit various display sites throughout the CBD over an hour and a half. Bookings are required and places are limited, so register your details in advance at Eventbrite.