A new project has revealed an intimate view of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through the eyes of children.
Jarjums Life Museum displays the artwork created by 86 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) and Hymba Yumba community hub.
The jarjums (children) have drawn, painted, recorded and curated items they believe represent their home and everyday culture.
Lead artist and project manager Jane Jennison said the project allowed children to show their connection to country.
Jarjums drew, painted and sketched portraits of themselves to display how they felt. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“We wanted to let people know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are alive and have a contemporary culture.
“It’s about showing a contemporary version of Aboriginality,” Ms Jennison said.
“We wanted them to show who they are right now here in 2016. It’s glimpses into the children’s lives.”
The museum has been filled with items entirely designed by children from both the Stradbroke Island and Humba Yumba mobs.
Jarjums will talk and draw with other children visiting the museum. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“We made self-portraits that represent them,” Ms Jennison said.
“We felt it was important as faces tell such a story and are a great way to connect with others.
“We also worked a lot with ceramics and clay work as children made animals that are special to them.”
She said the Stradbroke Island artists made whales, dolphins and turtles and the carpet snake as they were totems of the area.
Elders of the future
The project has been part of the Out Of The Box Festival aimed at children under eight in Brisbane.
Ms Jennison said along with the many paintings, children made videos in their own language.
“We recorded a beautiful welcome to country in a child’s voice.
“That was to let people know that the children come from their ancestors but they are made from the love of thousands and these are their stories now,” Ms Jennison said.
Children used bags to collect items important to them from around their home. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“We wanted to have them in a historical context but also who they will be as elders of the future.
“There’s also an installation of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes sung in Indigenous languages so people know that these languages are still living.”
Children and adults visiting the museum had the opportunity to also talk to the jarjums and ask them questions about their work.
Jarjums hope to pass on their language and culture to visitors to the museum. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“The children have been so awesome and generous with sharing their stories,” Ms Jennison said.
Ms Jennison said it was important for children and their families to be welcome in the gallery.
Building confidence in communities
Young jarjum Treka Bonner drew a self-portrait for the project and said she enjoyed showing off her pictures.
“I used my own design stuff to make it with pens,” she said.
“I loved it when we got to paint and I loved seeing my pictures up [in the gallery].”
A map detailing the waters of the Quandamooka people as seen by the jarjums. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
Parent Patrick Kurwell, from Stradbroke Island, said the project had built confidence of the community.
“Getting them to engage in activities has been really good for them,” he said.
“My young fella has been on the posters around Brisbane and now we call him the poster boy.
He said he hoped the project would connect young Queenslanders with Indigenous culture through the art and words of the jarjums.
“It’s really important for us to keep the languages being spoken and the more we can teach our children if it’s through this form of art,” Mr Kurwell said.
Jarjums encourage visitors to add their own drawings to the display. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe)
“You only have to ask my boy the name of what things are and he can give you the Murri name.
“If we can encourage more of the language into schools it will be good for us as Indigenous people as our cultural and language will be going to be right for the future … but we have to start.”
The Jarjums Life Museum is part of the Out Of The Box Festival and will remain open at QPAC till October 29.
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- Jessica Hinchliffe