Happy NAIDOC Week! For Our Elders – County, Connection, Community.
NAIDOC Week is an annual celebration in Australia, that honours and celebrates the culture, history, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. This important week serves as an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of our First Nations communities – the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth.
One of the most significant expressions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is through storytelling and art, which holds deep spiritual and cultural significance.
In this blog, we celebrate, recognise and support Aboriginal artists who have made significant contributions, not only to the art world but are now, members of our Koh Living family.
We recently sat down with renowned Aboriginal artists, Khatija and Michelle Possum, Koh Living resident artists, and descendants of the infamous Clifford Possum, to learn more about what NAIDOC Week, and this year’s theme “For our Elders”, means to them.
"Our Elders are everything to us", Aboriginal people didn't write down stories in books. We dance and paint. "The dances and paintings tell the stories of our history and our country". Without them, our culture would be lost.”
They told us stories about growing up in a community outside of Alice Springs, going out bush and sleeping in Humpies (a small shelter made of trees and sticks). There would be all the brothers and sisters, cousins, Aunties, and Uncles, all sleeping next to each other next to a fire for warmth.
The sparkle in Michelle’s eyes when she was re-telling this story showed just how much joy these memories meant to her. She spoke of the wet season, when the river flooded and all the kids would swim all day long, jumping and squealing, having so much fun.
The rainy season offers a unique opportunity for First Nations communities to celebrate their deep connection to Country, water, and each other.
It is a time when stories come alive, carrying the wisdom of the past into the present. By sharing these stories and experiences, we gain a deeper appreciation for the richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and the profound relationship with the natural world that has sustained Indigenous communities for countless generations.
With a deep appreciation for her cultural heritage, Khatija's art captures the essence of her Arrernte and Warlpiri roots. Her paintings showcase a unique blend of traditional symbolism and personal experiences, offering viewers a glimpse into her connection with the land and her ancestral stories. Khatija's works are characterised by bold colour palettes, intricate designs, and a deep reverence for the natural world.
We spoke together about passing on the traditions and knowledge of painting and it made us think that there is a serious risk of these ancient cultural skills being lost if we don’t work to preserve them. This prompted us to reach out to The Ikuntji Art Centre in the Northern Territory.
Ikuntji Art Centre, located in Haasts Bluff, Northern Territory, is a vibrant hub for Aboriginal artists to showcase their talents and share their unique cultural heritage through art. The centre plays a crucial role in providing economic opportunities and preserving traditional Indigenous art forms.
Koh Living recognises the significance of supporting Indigenous communities and has partnered with Ikuntji Art Centre to make a difference throughout July. 5% of all Aboriginal products sold online throughout July, will be donated to the Ikuntji Art Centre.
Ikuntji Art Centre is more than just an art gallery; it actively contributes to the holistic development of the local Aboriginal community. The centre provides training, employment, and income generation opportunities for artists, which helps to address social and economic challenges faced by Indigenous communities. Koh Living's commitment to donating 5% of its proceeds to Ikuntji Art Centre directly supports these community development initiatives, fostering self-determination and sustainable growth.
There are so many ways that you can get involved in NAIDOC Week activities around Australia. The NAIDOC website have events happening around the country. We are excited about a new exhibit at The Lume in Melbourne called ‘Connection’. It features more artwork of our beloved Michelle Possum in a truly immersive light and sound experience, not one to be missed. NAIDOC is truly a celebration, get involved, celebrate our magnificent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, celebrate our history and take the important steps towards reconciliation.