Inspiring Indigenous art on display for all to see in Penrith

Deadly artists with some of the work that is on display. Photo: Levi-Jaye Emanuel.
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To mark National Reconciliation Week, the Western Parkland City Authority (WPCA) has collaborated with First Nations students from Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School’s Deadly Arts program to create an art exhibition for the foyer of WPCA’s head office in Penrith.

National Reconciliation Week, held this week from Monday, May 27 to Monday, June 3, is acknowledged as a time for Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and reflect on how we can work towards achieving reconciliation.

Year-round, Nepean’s Deadly Arts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are encouraged to connect with their cultural identity and express themselves through art. Now, the wider community has the chance to see it.

According to Jennifer Westacott, Chair of the Western Parkland City Authority, given that western Sydney is home to one of the largest and most diverse populations of First Nations peoples in any region in Australia, this is the perfect time to showcase this.

“WPCA is committed to genuine and thoughtful action towards reconciliation in western Sydney, giving a stronger voice to First Nations peoples, growing economic participation and supporting connection to Country. Our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) formalises the commencement of our reconciliation journey,” she said.

“We are in awe of the artworks the Deadly Arts students have produced and we’re honoured to have them on exhibition in our foyer for the wider western Sydney community to enjoy.”

There are artworks displayed by a number of students from the school, including Hayley White from Year 9 with ‘Healing’.

“My artwork blends old traditions with new ideas, weaving my personal songline stories into each piece. This work symbolises a period in my life marked by struggle, betrayal, and the strengths I’ve overcome,” she said.

“‘Healing’ represents a journey of moving forward from past regrets, learning mistakes are a part of growth, and embracing the process of healing.

“This exhibition gives me hope for more people to see my story and I am very excited to have the opportunity to display my work outside of the school environment.”

‘Heartland’ by Year 9 student Bridget Hidden has a special personal connection.

“My artwork pays tribute to my relative Maria Locke (c. 1808 – June 6, 1878), an Aboriginal Australian landowner from the Dharug area of western Sydney. It is based around how the old generations took care of the land and shared it in the future with other people and cultures,” she said.

“Through symbols such as heart ties, vibrant colours, mountain escarpments, and constellations, I aim to capture Maria Locke’s resilience and profound connection to the land.”

The exhibition also includes a special work, entitled ‘Our Males’ Journey’, by Glen Turner, Deadly Arts Mentor/Tutor and head PHPE teacher at Nepean Creative and Performing Arts High School.

“Every Aboriginal person is on their own journey at their own pace. As a proud Gamilaroi man, I strive to keep stories alive and create new ones through my artwork,” he said.

Deadly Arts will be on display at WPCA 50 Belmore St, Penrith until Monday, June 3.

Cassidy Pearce

Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.

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