Indigenous artists with disability showcase their strong hearts

Indigenous artists living with disability will tell their personal stories of strength through creative pieces of art on canvas, wheelchairs, wheelie-walkers and a canoe.

The Walan Giiny (strong heart) exhibition, which opened at State Library’s kuril dhagun this weekend, is a creative outlet for the Nandjimadji artists from the Sunshine Coast.

Minister for Science and Innovation Leeanne Enoch said the Nandjimadji group helped Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability to maintain connection with culture and community.

“The Walan Giiny exhibition highlights the important contribution that these artists make to community and culture,” she said.

“The Nandjimadji group has members from teenagers to Elders aged 75 years and they come from many different backgrounds and language groups, with a variety of individual disabilities. Walan Giiny is another step to bridge the gap between modern concepts of disability and the traditions of the world’s oldest, continuous living culture.”

Acting State Librarian Sonia Cooper said Walan Giiny meant ‘strong heart’ and this was evident in each unique piece of art curated for the exhibition.

“The works demonstrate how art plays an integral role both in the healing process for community members with disability, and in the traditional storytelling methods in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.”

The entrance to the exhibition is heralded by an eye-catching, hand-painted, six-metre-long outrigger canoe which is used by the Nandjimadji group and taken out on the water for special occasions.

The exhibition is part of the kuril dhagun community exhibition program. Artists are selected through an Expression of Interest process and receive development and co-curation support for their exhibition.

Walan Giiny (strong heart) is on display in kuril dhagun on level 1 of State Library of Queensland, South Bank until 21 February 2016.

Background — Nandjimadji

The word ‘Nandjimadji’ is drawn from the Gubbi Gubbi language local to the Sunshine Coast region and means to ‘lighten the load’ or ‘make something less heavy’.

Nandjimadji aims to address the prevalent issues of social isolation and lack of access to culturally respectful services and support.

The Nandjimadji art group is sponsored by Suncare. Walan Giiny is presented as part of a partnership between Suncare, First Peoples Disability Network and Synapse.

Interview opportunities
Jennifer Cullen
CEO, Synapse
Representative of the Nandjimadji art group

Elisa Carmichael
Community Exhibition Officer, kuril dhagun, State Library of Queensland

High resolution images available upon request.

Media enquiries: Shahedah Sabdia, SLQ Communications
3842 9084 |

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