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Indigenous art on show


Brigid Veale
22 September 2008
Paintings by one of Australia’s prominent Indigenous artists will be on display at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus on Friday, September 26.

The exhibition is part of the Stories and Songs of the People event which will include free public forums during the day and an evening performance of Aboriginal Australian and Native American music and storytelling.

Janet Long Nakamarra, a Warlpiri woman from the Central Desert, will be exhibiting along with Bundjalung artist Digby Moran and local Gumbaynggirr artist Tony Hart.

Janet, who was born in 1960 at Anninie in the traditional land of her people, Warntaparri, north-west of Alice Springs, works as an interpreter for various government agencies and community members in the Northern Territory.

She is also in the second year of a Bachelor of Laws at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus.

Her paintings, which are highly detailed, have been exhibited at major galleries in Australia, China, Germany, and at the United Nations in New York.

“Back in the 1980s they started supplying canvas and paints to the artists in the community. I used to sit and watch my mum and my aunties. It took me a while to learn. I’m very patient – my paintings take months and months to do because there are so many fine details,” Janet said.

“I want to teach people about our paintings, which tell the story of our culture.”

Janet is also hoping that by studying law she will be able to help solve some of the problems facing her community.

“The thing I really want to do is know more about the law – my mob doesn’t understand the criminal justice system. I want to be able to be able to go back to Warlpiri as our first lawyer,” she said.

Janet will be at the Coffs Harbour campus on Friday for the Stories and Songs of the People event. The activities will begin with an opening ceremony and welcoming at 11am followed by a forum looking at the cultural aspects of ‘Lore and Law’. Speakers will include Glenn Woods, head of School - Indigenous studies at SCU, and Johnnie Aseron (BrownWolf), director of Rediscovering the Seventh Direction

An evening performance of Aboriginal Australian and Native American music and storytelling, titled ‘From the Great Plains to the Desert Plains’, will feature Northern Rivers’ band Monkey and the Fish; Kerry Neil and Native American elder Julia BrownWolf. Tickets for the evening will cost $20 for adults and $15 children/students. It will begin at 7pm in the D Block theatre.

Tickets are available at the Coffs Harbour Students’ Association, Coffs Music Centre (Palm Centre) and Galambila Aboriginal Health Service or at the door. For more information visit

Photo: Fire Dreaming, by Janet Long Nakamarra, will be on display in Coffs Harbour on Friday. (High resolution images available on request).