In a unique Government initiative during the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, a 'light box' featuring stunning Indigenous artwork will give prominence to an Acknowledgement of Country message in public centres around the country.

9 December 2019

The Department of Human Services project aims to acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through the artwork and message in local language.

The light box design brings together elements from the land and sea as a balanced and connected force, which is important to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Queensland-based Human Services National Manager and artist Anita-Lee Summers provided guidance on incorporating important elements of Indigenous culture within the artwork.

'The colours represent the changing landscape,' Anita-Lee said. 'From the red earth, to yellow ochre, through deserts, rainforests, farming and island areas. From land to sea, honouring the land on which we live.

'I contributed to the artwork using cross hatching—an ancient painting technique used along the eastern seaboard. I used the symbol of leaves to signify growth. To have strong foundations, you need to nourish, nurture and grow. So the leaves represent the contribution to healthy foundations.'

Anita-Lee was one of three artists involved in creating the final piece. James Baban's dot work tells the stories of country, and Torres Strait Islander artist Tatipai Barsa's vibrant colours of water and sea life represent coastal and Torres Strait communities.

This Image has been designed to acknowledge the diversity and cultural expression of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It incorporates elements of Aboriginal artwork created by James Baban and Anita-lee Summers, and Torres Strait Islander artwork created by Tatipai Barsa.

The unified design elements illuminate once backlit. The light shining from the image represents Australia's journey toward reconciliation.

National Manager Neal Gaston said there was a focus on ensuring diversity through cultural expression as well as reflecting the role of the Department of Human Services throughout remote, rural and urban Australia.

'We brought their works together in a single piece and we think we've done a fantastic job of combining those elements and overlaying with a colour palette that's truly Australian,' Neal said.

Work is underway to translate the Acknowledgement of Country into local Indigenous language where possible.

'I can't think of a more genuine way to acknowledge our First Peoples than by representing the Acknowledgement through Indigenous art and in local language—it's reconciliation in motion,' said Anita-Lee.

Hear more in the video below about the first translated light box in place at the newly opened Galiwinku Service Centre in the Northern Territory.

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