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NAISDA's ‘Gurayndja’ exhibition a huge success

NAISDA Dance College’s 2020 NAIDOC Week event shared cultural knowledge through contemporary artworks for an empowering experience for community members.

Respectfully titled ‘Gurayndja’, which means ‘Always’ in the local Darkinyung language, the exhibition showcased visual artworks created by NAISDA students during the COVID-19 lockdown. The artworks reflected the students’ connection to their own kinship and Country and the Yolngu system they are adopted into at NAISDA.   

‘Gurayndja’ artworks on display. Photography: Lisa Haymes

The exhibition honoured Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures as the oldest continuing cultures, powerfully reflected through the contemporary lens of the students’ artworks. An invitation to local community members, as well as the incorporation of both Yolngu and Darkinjung languages within the artworks, affirmed Darkinjung land and community as an enriching and safe space for cultural sharing and celebration.

Funding of $3,000 from Aboriginal Affairs NSW was provided through the 2020 NSW NAIDOC Grants program. In response to COVID-19 restrictions on community engagement,  this was used to film the event to create and publish a virtual exhibition experience for any mob that couldn’t attend.

Remaining funds were used to help with catering and event costs, as well as promotion of the event.

“Support from Aboriginal Affairs NSW helped NAISDA display the beautiful calico artworks at Nhangara Barayi, NAISDA’s dancing ground using driftwood sourced from, and then returned to, Darkinjung beaches,” said Jo Clancy, NAISDA Head of Cultural Practice.

“The students also presented a cultural dance performance, further strengthening connections to Country and sharing the richness of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Coming together as a community to celebrate our cultures felt particularly important this year following the dislocation of COVID” she said.

The NSW NAIDOC Grants is an initiative administered by Aboriginal Affairs NSW that aims to celebrate Aboriginal history, culture and achievements during NAIDOC Week. Through a variety of grants, ranging from $500 to $3,000, eligible organisations are supported to promote greater awareness and understanding of Aboriginal history and culture within their broader local or regional community.

Students and guests experience the ‘Gurayndja’ exhibition.
Photography: Lisa Haymes

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