VOICE TREATY TRUTH - NAIDOC WEEK 2019
EMILY RIGGS INTERVIEWS Amanda Westley
This week artist Amanda Westley generously shared with me what NAIDOC week represents to her and her community. Amanda is from Victor Harbor, in South Australia, and has a deep connection with country, especially water. Her people are the Ngarrindjeri people, who are the traditional custodians of the lower Murray River, Coorong and western Fleurieu Peninsula.
As a child, Amanda was inspired by her mother’s extensive research about their family, and this ignited Amanda’s passion for aboriginal art, “I think my earliest memory of me painting was when I was eleven years old and I haven’t stopped painting since. It connects me to my culture and to my ancestors,” she says.
Amanda’s deep connection with country and water inspires her to paint with a variation of blues and other water colours and naturally her totems, the pelican and whale, are both deeply connected to water too.
“Ngarrindjeri nation is surrounded by water as well, so I paint with a lot of blues and other water colours. I paint a lot of country because of my strong connection. I don’t really paint about our creation stories or totems, it’s mostly how I view Ngarrindjeri country.”
For NAIDOC week Amanda will be celebrating on Ngarrindjeri Ruwi (country) with family and friends at the Goolwa NAIDOC celebrations as she does every year.
“NAIDOC is one of my favourite times of the year. It celebrates all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and each year there is a different theme that reflects important issues.”
Amanda’s art is fast becoming very well known in Australia, from South Australia to as far as Western Australia. Her art has been printed on clothing and football teams have asked her to collaborate with them to produce guernsey’s for their indigenous football rounds. However, Amanda says her favourite achievement with her art so far is the opportunity it enables for her to be able to give back to her culture. She has dedicated sale profits from artistic collaborations to a local school which has provided local Nunga students with swimming lessons, school uniforms and more.
In addition to her art and community work, Amanda has just completed her certificate three in Endangered Aboriginal Language and she aspires to write a book one day.
Amanda’s passion to give back to her culture and community is evident. She’s always focused on finding ways to give back to her community and believes education is key to moving forward. Amanda encourages people to engage with NAIDOC week to learn more about the country we live on and to participate in NAIDOC celebrations happening locally in our towns and communities.
“My culture is your culture and it’s an amazing culture with so much to offer. Come and listen to our stories and watch our dances and hear our songs. You will be so glad you did!”
All images included in this article have been supplied by Amanda and to find out more about her inspiring work be sure to follow Amanda on Instagram