Nara Dreaming is a collective of artists and charity fundraisers committed to equality; not only within the art world, but between all Australians. The six Dreamers held their first cross-cultural exhibition back in 2010 and have grown from strength to strength. They have recently been named as a finalist in the Community HART Awards for their work.
Their collective goal of Indigenous reconciliation is expressed through painting, photography, craft and sculpture, and they share that process of artistic expression with the wider community through their exhibitions, morning teas and workshops where they celebrate Australian culture in all its diverse glory.
The Dreamers themselves are a diverse lot, including Indigenous members from the Wergai, Waddi Waddi and Wathaurung communities alongside people of other backgrounds, including one who is descended from two convicts from the third fleet. Incredibly two of the Aboriginal Nara Dreamers also have ancestry traced to the first fleet.
The Dreamers don't simply champion reconciliation: they live it.
National Reconciliation Week children's art workshops
National Reconciliation Week is an annual celebration of the relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. Reconciliation Week runs from 27 May to 3 June each year and is framed by two significant events – firstly the referendum held 27 May 1967 and the handing down of the Mabo Decision on 3 June 1992.
Nara Dreaming is shaped around Reconciliation Week.
Living their ethos of "reconciliation in action", the Nara Dreamers have run a series of children's art workshops over the years with support from Bank Australia.
The workshops introduce concepts of Indigenous reconciliation in an age-appropriate context to year 6 students, while simultaneously giving them an opportunity to explore their own stories and identities through painting. As well as exploring these themes for themselves, the workshops also equip students to pass on knowledge and stories to their schools, families and friends.
"We run a children's reconciliation art workshop that Bank Australia has assisted us with for the last three or so years," Anne Conway from Nara Dreaming explains. "We talk to [students] about the history of this area from an Aboriginal perspective."
Students learn about local Aboriginal history and Dreamtime and explore where things went wrong between traditional owners and settlers. They also learn about symbology in Aboriginal art and each child completes their own painting.
Partners in reconciliation
Despite the weight of the subject matter, Anne says it's not about guilt or blame, but a shared understanding.
"All the way along there've been wonderful partnerships between Aboriginal Australians and non-Aboriginal Australians, but an awful lot of misunderstanding and fear still prevails. We've all kind of been displaced somewhere along the lines through war or through transportation of convicts or migration, whatever. It's about focusing on our commonalities, not our differences."
And what do the students think?
"It's funny, often when the kids first come they're very polite and they won't say much, but by the time it's time to go they're wanting to share and they'll say, 'My aunty, I think that she might be aboriginal.'"
Bank Australia is proud to support the Nara Dreaming Children's Art Workshops which coincides with National Reconciliation Week.
For more information on Nara Dreaming, Reconciliation Week events and Bank Australia's Reconciliation Action Plan, see: