A beautiful painting celebrating the richness of Aboriginal storytelling, culture and connection across the Diocese of Wollongong has been gifted to the newly ordained Bishop Brian Mascord from CEDoW staff.
“From the Mountains to the Sea” was unveiled and presented to the Bishop on behalf of the Catholic Education community at this year’s Diocesan Education Mass on Thursday, 8 March 2018.
In acknowledgment of the many schools across the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong that are on the lands of the Dharawal/Tharawal, Yuin and Gundungurra Nations, the artwork depicts local Aboriginal Dreaming Stories, images and local landmarks relating to the four regions of the Diocese:
- On Dharawal Country, the Dreaming Story of “Gang-mangang” (Windang Island) tells of the coming of the first traditional peoples to the Illawarra and where the whale continues to travel up and down the coast looking for his canoe. The canoe sits just off the shoreline now known as Windang Island. Starfish sits on the ocean floor burrowed in the sand healing and staying safe.
The “Oola-boola-woo” (Mt Keira) Dreaming Story of the Five Islands tells how they came to be, sharing the story of land formations that are significant to the local Aboriginal peoples in the Illawarra.
In the Macarthur, Dharawal/Tharawal Country, the Dreaming Story of “The Lyrebird” is told and today it is a symbol of peace and reconciliation, teaching lessons on how to treat each other with respect.
The Southern Highlands, Gundungurra Country, tells the story of “How the Waratah turned red”.
In the Shoalhaven, Yuin Country, “The Red-Tail Black Cockatoo” Dreaming Story tells how Nowra got its name.
The artist also includes a hidden love heart in all his works - recognition that his “art is from the heart”. Can you spot it?
The painting was created by well-known local Aboriginal artist and respected local Elder, Uncle Kevin Butler, who said it was a personal tribute to original custodians of the area, inspired by the environment and his knowledge of the Dreamtime stories.
“I am very honoured to have presented the artwork to Bishop Brian. It’s a very appropriate gift to welcome him to our Diocese” Uncle Kevin said.
“I have done many artworks in the past that have special meanings to me, but this would have to be one of the highlights.”
The self-taught artist has over 30 years of painting experience.
“I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon. Being part of the Stolen Generation and raised by a non-Aboriginal family, I began painting indigenous art in 1988, as a way of getting in touch with my lost heritage. Painting is my passion.”
Aboriginal elders and communities share the Local Dreaming Stories of their ancestors, so that they are passed on from generation to generation, and so everyone will come to understand and respect the cultures of the traditional peoples and the deep relationship they have with their land.
This painting speaks to the hope that with understanding and respect for each other, we can all learn to share this land and live together in peace and harmony - both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples, walking in a spirit of true reconciliation, respect and love.
Uncle Kevin Butler is one of the Diocese’s Aboriginal Education Assistants, working for many years in schools across the Diocese of Wollongong supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and sharing Aboriginal cultural knowledge with students and staff.