Charlie Chambers Jnr.
Aboriginal Jarowair man
Charlie Chambers (Jnr) is an Australian Aboriginal artist belonging to the Jarowair tribe from the Toowoomba, Dalby and Bunya mountain region.“When I was young, I would sit with my elders and listen to these Dreamtime stories, but the stories would go in one ear and out the other.
It was when I got older that I started to think about these stories and start painting them”. “The main reason I love painting is to keep the stories that the elders told me about the community alive”.
Healing Land, Rivers, Sea and Ocean
This painting represents each part of the land and sea coming together as one, each natural ecosystem connecting in a myriad of ways to heal.
Starting at the bottom of the painting you will see the land featuring a kangaroo and emu with each of their unique tracks represented: “The reason why I put the kangaroo and emu on there…..it’s representing the coat of arms, the kangaroo and emu facing each other.”
In the centre of the painting you will see a freshwater stream with platypus, silver perch, eel and dhu fish: “The eel and dhu fish, they go amongst the weeds, that’s why you’ve got the green and yellow representing the undergrowth in the water….When you look at the dark blue [dots], that’s the river running, the flow of the river.”
This then connects to the shoreline where you can see people and community: “It’s about healing the land and culture. When you talk about culture these guys are painted up representing culture...they’re holding artefacts, they’ve got boomerangs...the ladies got the dillybag and the digging stick”
Next to the shoreline is the ocean: “Here [top left corner] you’ve got the turtle...when they come up to the shore they lay their eggs....So, you look after the shore; you look after the land…...Here [bottom left corner of painting] you’ve got dolphins...you look at Moreton Island for instance where they feed the dolphins every afternoon. So, if you look after the land, you let dolphins be happy and come back for feeding time.”
Be The Voice
The central theme of my painting is Voice. The centre of this painting represents the land we walk on. The dots represent the wave of our voice, carrying the truth of the First Nation People across the land. The top and bottom of the painting is representing the water that this land is surrounded by and the left and right of this painting represents the bushland. The figures are representing different communities of this country, whether they’d be immigrants or First Nations People telling the truth to get a better understanding about our mob.
Many Tribes Many Languages
The different colours represent different geographical regions: ochre is the outback; green for rainforest; blue for the coastal regions; and yellow for the cities. The various marks within the colours represent the different tribes and their many languages. The circles are the learning centres. These depict both traditional ways of learning languages and modern day learning institutions. The wave of footprints between the centres signify the many people who make connections between all the different ways of learning language.
Even though a lot of people live in the city and urban areas these days, filled with streets and parks, you can always keep your culture while you're there. Culture is very strong to Indigenous people.
In the past, we were punished for speaking our language- people were frightened and too afraid to acknowledge their culture. These days, our people are proud of their identity, and are eager to learn about their culture and language.
The circle in the middle represents the city, with the roads and parks surrounding it to form urban living. The mother, father and children are present, symbolising that past culture can survive in present society.
In the centre we have the circle that represents strength of women in the community. It represents all women and their connection to helping out their community, while still being able to focus on their children as well. I respect all women: my wife, nan, mum, aunties, sisters, daughters and granddaughters in my life. They gave me strength in life to be the man I am today. Without their strength and wisdom, it would be a tough world to live in.
When I was a young fella in the community of Cherbourg, my dad would take me and my brothers out hunting. We would hunt for kangaroos.
Our Many Tribes
The different shades of colours in the background represent different states; but long before those states came along, we had boundaries of our own. The defined segments represent all the different tribes that existed in Australia, long before colonisation. These tribes made up the nation within itself.
When we talk about this year's NAIDOC theme "Always Was, Always Will Be", we talk about the different tribes, different languages and different clans that exist, and continue to exist today.
The turtle is the totem of some tribes that lived in the community and represents the tribes that came from Fraser Island to Cherbourg.
Hunt & Gather
This painting is about the daily routine of my ancestors before colonisation. The men would go out hunting for food and the women would go out gathering food.
The male emu play a very important role in raising their young. The females lay the eggs and the male sits on the eggs and hatch them to raise more chicks. Male emu are very protective over their eggs. I think modern society can learn from the emu’s relationship with their young.
“My artwork is about coming together with all nationalities, as Australia is so multicultural now. All walking together and standing up for the next generation. You’ve got the parents, your mother, your father, the children standing up together, walking together as one.”
The different layers of colour around the edges represent the ocean, the land and the desert with the centre depicting the 8 states of Australia: "Footprints show us walking together respecting the land and First Nations people who were here long before colonisation. Everyone coming together in solidarity." - Charlie Chambers Jnr.
Respecting Our Elders
“Our Ancestors left paintings on the wall for 65,000 years to pass the stories and knowledge to the younger generation today, and to the Elders that pass it onto the younger generation. All handed down from generation to generation. It’s all about respecting our Elders. They're the ones who put the food on the table, the ones who taught us our right and wrongs.”
At the top are cave paintings from a sacred site. They taught us how to go hunting, how to look for animal tracks and water. At the bottom we have a hunter and a gatherer, using the knowledge.
On the sides are circles representing different communities and tribes, all gathered around two tall figures. These are the Elders. The Elders on each side are looking over the central community: parents and grandparents who are looking over children and grandchildren. All gathered together with the Elders as the Ancestors look over everyone.”
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