Now an annual event, the NAIDOC Celebration Exhibition displays pieces from University of Ballarat Visual Art and Contemporary Craft students as well as artists in the local Aboriginal community.

The exhibition feature piece about ‘closing the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people has been created by a number of the students.

Ballarat art student Donna Blackhall is a Yorta Yorta person now living in Wathaurong country.
Her brother, Billy Blackall is a recognised Indigenous artist and has been painting since he was a teenager.

But it was only very recently that Donna found herself putting a paintbrush to canvas.

“I just admired Bill’s work for many years and working at the Aboriginal art gallery seen a lot of art coming in and out of the place and sort of thought I’d give it a go.”

Family values are one of the aspects of Aboriginal culture that she is most proud of.
“I just like being Aboriginal, being raised to be proud of who I am.”

One of her paintings in the exhibition depicts Bunjil the eagle-hawk, regarded as the spirit creator of Kulin nations, meeting his son Binbeal, the god of the rainbows.

“I was sitting there one day and I’m thinking, ‘what can I paint?’. The next minute I looked up and a rainbow come up… and it just sort of gave me the idea of Bunjil, the creator around this area and his son Binbeal is the bow of the rainbow.”

Daphne Milward is also a Yorta Yorta woman living in Ballarat.

She’s been working in Aboriginal affairs for around 50 years and is a member on the board of Native Title Services Victoria.

She says art not only brings her closer with her Aboriginal heritage but she hopes it is passing on wisdom to others.

“It gives me the chance to pass on cultural knowledge to the other students as well, because I think I am the oldest student in the class.

“We’ve sort of integrated into mainstream society now and we have to try and keep our identity.”
Knowledge of food is passed on through Aboriginal stories, songs, dance and art and it is portrayed through Daphne’s work.

“It depicts the traditional way of gathering food, then the different types of food, then the end result is the cooking of the food,” she says.

The exhibition runs at the Post Office Gallery in Ballarat from Wednesday 7 July to Saturday 17 July.

The official opening event is on Thursday 15 July where three major NAIDOC Week awards will be presented.

For details, contact 5327 8615.