Aboriginal Quandamooka woman
Shara is an Australian Aboriginal contemporary artist from Quandamooka country, inspired by stories of her Elders, the generation from One Mile. Shara Delaney is a traditional owner through her parents the Delaney and close families, the Noounccal, Ngugi & Gorenpul clan groups of Quandamooka. Shara’s paintings are her identity as a strong saltwater woman, connection to family, sand and sea.
My Mother Earth
Naree Budjong Djara translates to My Mother Earth.
This artwork represents the special connection between land and water to Aboriginal People. We value our relationship to country, honour it through art, language, song, and dance. Passing knowledge and customs down to younger generations. When our environment is thriving and protected, our people feel the same way. When it's under threat, this impacts us mentally and spiritually. We mourn loss and destruction of sacred sites and cultural heritage. If we can focus to support Mother Earth making sustainable decisions this not only benefits our wellbeing but also future generations. The design includes lines and circles that are families and community. All joined together to keep our culture alive and strong. The "U" shapes signify people in our community. Our old people told us what foods we suitable to eat and what plants and animals were in season. These are the different aspects I created using the dots.
This artwork represents Caring for Country. Jara means country, yaga means work, and nya means caring. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have always advocated for country. Our voices and input are so vital regarding managing and protecting land and water. Our knowledge systems which are linked to our long-term interactions with stories of significant places within our country. The use of vibrant colour speaks of our old people's philosophy of life and cultural teachings that are important for all to consider within their interactions with the environment.
It's great to see contemporary and traditional practices being used by mob in Caring for Country strategies. Never underestimate our cultural knowledge because we have successfully used these practises for thousands of years.
If you want to heal country, then pay attention to First Nations Voices. This artwork hopes to capture the past and express deeply felt concerns regarding desecration of ancient sites and the struggle to reclaim cultural context.
This artwork honours female role models in our communities and their contributions. In my design, I wanted to capture how I look up to my mother and grandmother like how many of us can relate; the mother figure who has kept the family together, made the sacrifices and achievements made for us to achieve greater, who continue to inspire us.
In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, you often have several female leaders who can be anyone such as sisters, aunties, cousins, daughters or friends... not only caring for family but fighting for cultural/social issues while breaking down gender stereotypes.
I wanted to acknowledge those who had passed on- their spirit lives on. This theme is a reminder that makes me appreciate and be thankful for the women paving the way for future generations.
I come from a strong line of Aboriginal women. Descendant of old Granny Mibu, Neli Nidgeri, born at Pulan (Amity). My mother Sandra Rose Delaney nee Close who is a current artist and author. There’s also my maternal grandmother Marion Violet Close nee Currie who married into the close family. My Nan is 95 years old and still going strong. She’s originally from Jerico/Bunya Mountains but an Elder of our community Minjerribah.
This painting is our many family groups on country past and present that keep growing. The circles bounded together, for stronger relationships. Colours chosen to represent our women, with touches of blue to reflect Quandamooka Waters. Babragowi ‘pigface flowers’, a native plant found along the coastal areas of Minjerribah reminded me of the women in my life. My mother told me our Grannies gathered wildflowers for special occasions, for decorations in their homes and for the graves.
I come from Quandamooka Country. This painting pays tribute to one of our sea country totems, Buangan, the dolphin. Our old people called them porpoises. Today we greet Buangan in the blue waters of Quandamooka sea country with the Jandai greeting of ‘yura’ which acknowledges the Buangan presence and their relationship to our people.
Stories handed down through our family tell of my grandfather Sonny Close as a fisherman when he used to strike the water to call Buangan who would chase the fish into the nets. Buangan would be rewarded by getting a share of the catch. In the old days, some Elders could claim as their own certain marked Buangan that frequented Pulan / Amity.
I am always inspired to paint Buangan and they highlight an important aspect of my identity as a Quandamooka saltwater goori. The circles in the background represent Quandamooka Country with the three clan groups Noonuccal, Ngugi and Goenpul – my community, my people.
Yalingbila balgany, the whale is coming, watch her as she swims past heading north. It's whale migration season during June to November each year. Humpback whales travel north to the warmer waters in the colder months to have their offspring, then returning south with their young to Antarctica.
I come from Quandamooka country that's located on the coast of Brisbane. Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) is a great location for people from land to view these whales hoping to see them breach above the water. Yalingbilia is not our totem, however they're special visitors to our waters.
We welcome them every year. I view them as such majestic creatures which made me paint this whale under the night sky using these colours as it passes Quandamooka Country in the background. This is actually three circles presenting our clan groups Ngugi, Goenpul & Noonuccal.
Having a connection to our home lands, passing on knowledge and customs down to our younger generations is important to us. After all the years of oppression and removal it’s something we still fight for. I’m from Quandamooka Country where there is three clan groups known as Nughi of Moorgumpin (now known as Moreton Island) and the Noonuccal and Goenpul of Minjerribah- they represent the three circles in the design. We are also known as Yoolooburrabee “People of the sand and sea”.
These saltwater lines, like a movement of our culture flowing on for years to come. I can only dream that in many years' time we are still going strong and our home, lands and sea are being cared for. This painting is for everyone who cares for country.
First Nation Voice
This artwork is about the first nation voice of this country having a say on our rights and issues regarding our people. Our culture is thousands of years old, we should be respected and acknowledged. Surviving genocide and the effects of colonialisation, we now as a country are faced with inter-generational trauma. So as history shows, it has always been a massive fight to get to where we are today because we’ve been oppressed as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. Our ancestors have paved the way for our people and it continues for generations and generations. Trauma affects our families whether we live in remote or urban communities.
This design draws attention to Treaty, the main discussion for this NAIDOC theme. If a Treaty was established, and it meant our people had more rights, then I would support it. We are the only Commonwealth country without a Treaty with its Indigenous people. I think it’s an important step in the right direction to have such an agreement in place for both parties to move forward together. Aboriginal people have not given up their sovereignty- do the rest of Australia understand this? I think by listening to our voices, we can better understand each other, understand the trauma and begin to heal as a country. Acknowledgement is a very important part of this process. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History is not taught enough in schools, which is why I can see there’s a lot of ignorant and misconceptions about our people. Education and awareness should continue into the workplace.
Connection To Country
This contemporary painting highlights the First Nation People of Australia’s relationship to the land - past, present and future. The circles represent each First Nation group, who we belong to and identify as. It portrays the intricate, respectful, spiritually and physically dependent, grateful, and protective ties to Country that gives us strength, resilience and a hope for the future. Within this Country, the painting speaks of the past and ongoing connections between Australia’s First Nations People, languages and Country.
As a people, we have been bestowed with a responsibility for lands and seas in which all of the creatures that inhabit the land, sea and sky country. This sense of responsibility is greater than an emotional tie – it is intrinsically tied to the spirits of all aspects of Country - Always Was, Always Will Be.
Our Languages Matter
The resounding sense of “flow and continuity of culture in language” is the touchstone of Shara’s work. Shara sees language as a conveyor of identity, culture and knowledge, and also as a connection back to ancestors. These themes are typified in the different motifs within her painting. The central circular motif of the painting features text. The smaller lower circles in the work represent meeting places and community, and have lines of connection.
Below the community circles is a semi circle of different coloured dots and Shara defines these as the different dialects within the hundreds of Indigenous language groups. The patterns in the top of the painting are to be seen within that sense of flow of culture. The shadow of hands in the sides of the work are the hands of the ancestors.