NAIDOC week opening ceremony

NAIDOC week opening ceremony

On Sunday, July 4 at the Huon Valley Hub green space, a Welcome to Country and smoking and ochre ceremony was performed as the opening ceremony for NAIDOC week.

The event was foregrounded by an ARTBOX exhibition Mother Heart Heal of local Tasmanian Aboriginal artists Bron Englert, Gemma O'Rourke, and Deb Cobern, who performed the Welcome to Country and smoking and ochre ceremony.

The theme for NAIDOC week this year was 'Heal Country', which the artists were all heavily influenced by in their art installation.

Gemma O'Rourke said that the theme was something of heavy spiritual value in the Aboriginal community.

"The importance of country to Aboriginal people in Australia is of a living consciousness, it's not just a place you visit," said Ms. O'Rourke.

All of the artists identified how art has helped to describe the Aboriginal history and experience throughout time.

Art was also highlighted as a specific way in which the Aboriginal and local community can strengthen ties between each other.

"More contemporary works as well as the traditional practices such as basket weaving and shells are quite challenging and confronting for people to look at the hidden history," said Ms O'Rourke, "We have so much to offer for people to find a way that's easy for them in their heart perhaps to look at."

The ARTBOX exhibition contained various styles of art, ranging from the traditional basket weaving, shell-stringing and stringy bark arts to more contemporary pieces like pencil sketches and oil paintings.

The artwork continued from the ARTBOX into the community hub next door, with those who attended the ceremony invited to come into the space to appreciate more of the exhibition.

Bron Englert, whose daughter Zoe assisted in the Welcome to Country, stated that she was excited for there to be more of a discussion of the Aboriginal experience in the community, especially for her children.

"She's going to grow up with a different experience than what I did when I was younger, this just didn't happen when I was younger," said Ms Englert.

Huon Valley Council is supporting a program of events for NAIDOC week at the Huon Valley Hub, which will be open ten to four weekdays until 18th July for the local community to visit the space.

The Huon Valley Council will continue the partnerships with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community by developing a Reconciliation Action Plan, making a commitment into the future to celebrate the languages, culture and heritage of Aboriginal people.

The Council is working in partnership with local Aboriginal community members on how the Council can best support reconciliation in the Huon Valley and drive these efforts as an organisation.