by beth sorensen

Blacktown Proper Way: Us Women, Us Men

The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre
Friday 4 March – Saturday 2 April
Free admission

Join us on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for weaving with Tarni Eastwood and special guest weavers as part of the Proper Way exhibition.

Tuesdays 10.30  am – 12.30 pm
Thursdays 10.30 am – 12.30 pm
Fridays 10.30 am – 12.30 pm

On Wednesday 30 March, the Possum Skin Elders Cloak artwork that is featured in this current exhibition, will be removed from public display for one day only. The cloak, owned by Uncle Wes Marne, will be photographed for marketing purposes for a forthcoming play and book by Bruce Pascoe.

Our River, Jason Wing, 2008. Spray paint on found street signage, 91 x 59 cm. Blacktown City Art Collection. Acquired 2009. Photo: Adam Hollingworth
Path to My Country, Robyn Caughlan, 2019. Mixed media, 115 x 128 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Curated by Jamie Eastwood and Dr Virginia Keft

Blacktown Proper Way: Us Women, Us Men is a celebration and reconnection to traditional and contemporary forms and cultural design principles specific to the many NSW Aboriginal nations who are connected to and call Blacktown home. This new exhibition and public program takes place on the Land of the Darug people and we acknowledge and respect Darug cultural practices and ongoing custodianship.

In traditional Aboriginal cultures, women and men had distinct and gender specific roles they performed in their communities. Blacktown Proper Way maintains these ancient and evolving traditions of women’s and men’s business in today’s Australian society as artists come together to explore and celebrate the uniqueness of producing art from a culturally proper way perspective.

In Blacktown Proper Way Us Men, Jamie Eastwood curates the work of Darren Bell, Keith Brown, Brad Burrows, Danny Eastwood, Trevor Eastwood, Uncle Wes Marne, Uncle Greg Sims, Trevor Treloar and Jason Wing.

Curated by Dr Virginia Keft, Blacktown Proper Way Us Women, presents the work, skills, cultural practices, knowledges and wisdoms of Aunty Julie Christian, Jayne Christian, Aunty Robyn Caughlan, Aunty Barbara McGrady, Donna Brown, Debra Beale and emerging artist Tarni Eastwood.

Blacktown Proper Way: Us Women, Us Men is about connection. Cultural knowledge is passed from one generation to the next. The Elders are the wisdom holders of the community; they have a responsibility to help guide and nurture younger people safely into adulthood. Aboriginal knowledges about land, family, ceremony, language, and protocols are intricately connected and deeply embedded into Aboriginal ways of understanding Culture and community. Men and women stand together in community to strengthen bonds and build connections. There are clear and distinct roles for women and men, these are different and equally important. Us Men and Us Women engage Elders in a consultative and nurturing way to support and reflect both the traditional and changing practices and protocols of Aboriginal cultural tradition.

The importance of connection, understanding, and respect through gathering are key concepts communicated through Blacktown Proper Way. The visual language of the works along with the interactive and welcoming spaces, facilitate understanding and promote respectful connections to Aboriginal community and culture.

Throughout the year, we invite you to gather, connect, and learn through our Proper Way public programs including a series of cultural art-making workshops, our Elders in residence and a women’s art space at The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre.

Partners: Solid Ground 

Curator Bios

Jamie Eastwood
Jamie Eastwood is the son of highly regarded artist Danny Eastwood. Jamie inherits his Australian Aboriginality from his traditional Grandmothers Country Brewarrina far western NSW Nagamba Tribe, his spiritual Birth Place Gadigal Land Sydney NSW and his ancestry of his Mother, who is a descendent of King Bungaree of the Hawksbury Kuring-Gai Darug people.

Jamie spent most of his youth growing up in Blacktown; it is here that his connection to his Aboriginality, passion for art, and local Aboriginal cultural histories was able to grow, through exposure, learning from Aboriginal Elders and working with the Blacktown Aboriginal community all have provided the theme for his artworks since he began to paint at the age of 15.

Stylistically Jamie utilises both traditional Aboriginal techniques such as ‘dots’ but also incorporates unorthodox non-traditional techniques with the use of imagery, colour, and contemporary narratives. His art is a fusion of the past, present, and the future and represent Aboriginal artists who have been influenced by both their Indigenous history and current Western upbringing.

Dr Virginia Keft
Dr. Virginia Keft is a Murriwarri woman; a practicing artist and curator, First Nations producer, and award-winning researcher with over 25 years’ experience working in the Arts Sector. Virginia has produced and curated artistic and cultural programs that celebrate and recognise the continuity of Culture and the important contribution that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have made, and continue to make, to the Arts, education, community, and Country. Virginia brings her commitment and deep respect for First Nations practices and protocols to her curatorial practice. She is passionate about making contemporary arts and culture accessible to broad audiences together with a commitment to help drive change through innovative and culturally safe arts and culture programs.

Virginia holds a Doctorate (PhD – Medalist) from the University of Wollongong, along with a Bachelor of Creative Arts (BCA – Distinction), and a Bachelor of Arts (BA – Class 1 Honours). Virginia holds the position of Arts and Dementia Coordinator for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia, she is a member of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group, she is also a member of the Red Rattler First Nations Advisory Group.

Top right. Danny Eastwood, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
Bottom left. Our River, Jason Wing, 2008. Spray paint on found street signage, 91 x 59 cm. Blacktown City Art Collection. Acquired 2009. Photo: Adam Hollingworth.
Bottom right. Path to My Country, Robyn Caughlan, 2019. Mixed media, 115 x 128 cm. Image courtesy the artist.

Proudly funded by the NSW Government in association with Blacktown City Council and Blacktown Arts.
Proper Way is presented by Blacktown City Council, Blacktown Arts and Solid Ground.