The ‘big secret’ was, my great grandmother was aboriginal. I think those great uncles would have preferred the mass murderer. That is the saddest part.
Personally, I’m proud to acknowledge my aboriginal heritage. Frankly, it wasn’t that much of a surprise. You only have to look at great grandma’s photograph. (I’ll have to get a copy from my mother) The other unfortunate thing about the ‘big secret’ is that we missed out learning about a whole part of our culture.
My family are experiencing that learning now in our own separate ways. My brother is attending an aboriginal studies course; my mother and sister are getting involved through my niece’s school, while I am exploring my heritage through art.
The idea came after being asked to design and help the children at the local primary school paint an aboriginal style mural. I like traditional aboriginal style paintings but I also love painting in my own ‘fine art’ style. So, I decided to try incorporating both styles together – the same subject matter in both styles.
And I’m planning on doing a goanna next as the goanna is the totem of the Wiradjuri people, to which I belong.
Other subjects I’d like to paint are the kookaburra, koala, magpie and frog. I’m looking for traditional stories relating to each of the animals I paint to help me better understand my heritage.