As Senior Curator at the Islamic Museum of Australia , I was delighted to attend the incredibly moving NAIDOC celebration at Ilim College
Celebrating the relationship between Indigenous Australians with firstly the Macassan fishermen in the 1600’s and then the Cameleers after the 1900’s – this event culminated in the unveiling of a spectacular “Connection to Country” mosaic mural. This piece reflected these connections and symbolically, was created by school students, teachers, parents and indigenous community members too. I urge those of you who can, to check this mosaic artwork out -it’s mesmerising and personally, got me good
Moving speeches from students and school Principals and captivating storytelling from Uncle Ron Murray, this event was attended by hundreds of supporters to celebrate a shared positive outlook through the power of art conveying connection to country. A huge shout out is extended to Principal Zeynep Sertel for her diligence and vision with this initiative. As she explained:
“After taking the secondary student leadership team to the Islamic Museum at the beginning of the term where they learnt about the Afghani cameleers, the positive interaction they had with the Aboriginal community and their contribution to the wider community, we decided to do a follow up project to bring awareness about this topic on school grounds involving students and the community.
Australian history witnessed two nations intertwining peacefully for decades. RESPECT and ACCEPTANCE was instrumental in forging their relationship. The Afghani cameleers sought permission from the Aboriginal people by lighting a fire, waiting for permission to be granted before settling on their lands. The journey ignited with respect, strengthened over the years as members of the two nations married one another, named their children, and even their streets, with Islamic names.
This was one of the historic stepping stones which helped pave the way to the Australian multicultural society we all enjoy today. The “Connection to Country” mosaic art depicts Islamic and Aboriginal art on each side of the work with the Aboriginal, Islamic and Australian flag.
You could also see the Afghani cameleers travelling through the desert, an Aboriginal man playing the didgeridoo and the Uluru in the middle. We are pleased to establish links with the Aboriginal community and raise awareness of the positive interactions that the Afghani cameleers and the Aboriginal people had years back and hope to continue this into the future.”
Importantly, this event would not have been possible without Mosaic Maestro, Anisa Sharif, who steered this community artwork into being. Anisa is also one of our three featured artists, along with Fatima Killeen and Natalie Fisher, who will be showcased in the upcoming IMA exhibition ‘Motives and Motifs’, opening 15th July, 2016.
Come check out their fabulous work and see what all the fuss is about!
ISLAMIC MUSEUM OF AUSTRALIA
15A Anderson Rd Thornbury 3071 Melbourne