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Bundaberg artist wins art prize

[by Greg Chapman]

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Image: supplied

Bundaberg First Nations artist Llewellyn Swallow’s ability to bring Indigenous culture to life on canvas has again earned her the Indigenous Art Award prize at the 2021 CQU Creates Art Awards.

Llewellyn has now won the Indigenous Art category of the awards five times since CQU Creates was launched in 2014.

Llewellyn is a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman of the Kabi Kabi people. Born on Mamu lands of Far North Queensland, she now lives on the lands of the Taribelang Bunda of the Wide Bay region in Bundaberg.

“Winning the CQU Creates Indigenous Art Award gives me the greatest pleasure. I am always surprised and thrilled when my name is read out,” she said.

“Winning this award provides me with the confidence to keep painting and telling indigenous cultural stories through my art. This provides me personally with the platform to bring these stories alive.”

Llewellyn has won the category in 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

CQU Creates Art Awards judge Veronika Zeil spoke highly of Llewellyn’s painting, “Sun Woman, Moon Man”.

“This work has intricate detail and patterning, and bold colour and design. It depicts a traditional Indigenous story, as well as a universal theme of the interwoven unity of opposites: day and night, summer and winter, yin and yang, male and female,” Veronika said.

Llewellyn said the painting told the story of the accidental finding of fire and how it has influenced First Nations cultural history.

“Everyone knows the story of how to make fire with two sticks,” she said.

“Most Indigenous cultural stories have a male influence, as does this story to a lesser degree. The legend goes that Purukupali (the first man in the world) and his friend Japara discovered fire quite by accident. What captured my attention was that Purukupali gave the large torch of blazing bark to his sister Wuripuranala and the smaller one to his friend.

“When the creation period came to an end and the mythical people were transformed into creatures, plants and natural forces, Wuripuranala became the sun woman and Japara became the moon man.

“This immediately sparked my interest as it bought Wuripuranala (a woman) to the fore. My motivation in painting this particular story therefore lies in the ever-challenging dominance of male versus female.”

She encouraged emerging First Nations artists to pursue their own stories.

“Art is mostly a purely selfish individual pursuit. My advice is to keep trying no matter what adversities you encounter,” she said.

“My art is a way of keeping my culture alive. If it is important to you never give up. Seek advice, experiment....but keep going.”

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