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Our talented students have made their mark in the art world with a breathtaking painting that beautifully encapsulates the essence of our shared experiences and the profound influence of our Elders. The masterpiece, a collaborative effort reflecting individual stories, is currently gracing the Centre Gallery at the Department for Education building in Adelaide as part of The Namatjira Art Exhibition.
We are thrilled to announce that Port Augusta Secondary School has clinched the People’s Choice award for this remarkable artwork. This recognition is a testament to the skill, creativity, and the heartfelt narrative woven into every brushstroke by our students.
Congratulations to the entire Port Augusta Secondary School SAASTA Connect Program class and Miss Courtney Hannigan (SAASTA Coordinator) for this well-deserved honor!

Continue reading for the artwork description.

'Their Guidance'

Our design is the story of each of us reflecting on the significant role our Elders play in our lives. The design brings together individual experiences and meaning from each class member, tying them together with common themes throughout three main sections. Our story starts with the hands in the centre, representing a class member and her Nanna walking together, which symbolises the link between the Elders and our younger generation. Without this link, our culture and history would not be able to live on. Surrounding the hands is a border of Elders, women on the inside, and men on the outside, protecting and keeping safe this lifeline of knowledge and culture being passed down through future generations. The lines coming out towards the side represent a resting place for Elders to tell their stories to younger generations.

Above the hands, in the top section that symbolises the sky, there is a large meeting place. This meeting place is the beginning of where the link between the Elders and our younger generation comes alive. It represents how we all come together to meet and to learn about and practice culture, keeping it alive. Above the meeting place there are the symbols of a man and women, representing the importance of those Elders who have passed, as well as of those who are still with us. Surrounding the meeting place, the stars and the moon represents a student listening to her grandfather’s story about growing up. He taught her about her culture while they sat under the bright shining moon, and pointed out the seven sisters and told her the Dreamtime story.

The bottom section of the design symbolises the land and its significant role in our experiences with our Elders. In the bottom left-hand corner, there are two campsites with footprints representing the journeys we have, and continue to have, from one place to another with our Elders, to learn about culture. The larger of the two campsites sits next to the intersection of water and mountains which represent where the Flinders Ranges meet the Spencer Gulf. This site is not only significant to us as it is the places we live, but it is also where a lot of our experiences and stories have taken place. We all have wonderful memories of going out into the mountains or the sandhills with our Elders to learn about culture.

A representation of cultural knowledge being passed down is the Honey Ants in the corner. These represent the story of a class members experience in learning about and practicing searching for bush tucker, with their Nanna and Aunties. This practice is important as it helps us to be able to pass it on to our own kids and grandkids, continuing to keep culture alive well into the future. Further representation of this is the meeting place next to the Honey Ants, symbolising a class member sitting with her family and talking about their culture when they were younger.

Throughout the design there are also a number of animal and people tracks. The footprints represent how a class member’s ancestors would walk around their country to get to their campsites and meeting places. The emu and kangaroo tracks represent experiences with Elders, learning about and hunting these animals. The plants represent another class member’s experiences with her Elders and learning about the uses of these for bush medicine and bush tucker. This painting, as a whole, symbolises that the link between Elders and us younger generation is important to protect. It is important as it is what will keep our culture alive, through continuing our learning and practices shown throughout our design. It is important not only for us and our future generations to keep this link, but also for our Elders and ancestors who’s efforts and knowledge will never be forgotten.