Rosebud indigenous artist Lionel Lauch was thrilled when a surprise guest turned up to this 40th birthday recently.
It was legendary singer-songwriter Archie Roach, who just happens to be Lauch’s uncle.
Roach, who sang at the party, has had an enormous influence on his nephew in overcoming personal demons and embracing his Aboriginal heritage.
Lauch’s late mother was Aboriginal and like Roach, one of the stolen generations. (Kirrae-wurrung and Gunditjamara are the indigenous nations Lauch’s family is from; his father, who lives in Mildura, is German-Dutch).
Lauch was also fostered out, at the age of six, after an early childhood spent in inner Melbourne and Morwell, living with various family members.
He grew up on a poultry farm in Main Ridge. He went to primary school in Red Hill, then Rosebud High. His favourite class was, naturally, art.
It was a good upbringing, he said.
Hard work though – we had to handfeed 75,000 chooks every day for years!
They were also hard times, he says, battling the endemic racism of the times.
An all-round sportsman, he played footy with Red Hill and Rye, and these days runs the Rosebud Little Athletics with his wife.
Father of two children – and about 20 other kids belonging to his extended family – Lauch loves to teach others about indigenous art, heritage and culture.
He’s also a sculptor, painter, woodworker, didgeridoo decorator and bush tucker man.
Lauch has been flat-chat recently creating limestone sculptures and co-ordinating workshops in the artform for Baluk Arts at Cube 37.
The results of these workshops are on show at Frankston Arts Centre (Federation Gallery) until July 18.
The exhibition, Nairm Bulluk Bay Mob 2010, also features paintings, ochre stencil prints and other works by local indigenous artists.
*Frankston Arts Centre is also hosting the first solo exhibition of Port Pirie Raukkan/Ngarrindjeri artist Cedric Varcoe. Men of the Ngarrindjeri runs until July 17.