Painted by Bigambul woman, Cheryl Moggs, from Goondiwindi, the painting portrays the 2018 theme, Because of her, we can! showing the courage and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Cheryl shares in her own words below, the inspiration behind the artwork.
The painting has three sections with image overlays depicting stories. Uniting as one!!! (Spiritual and cultural connection) Across the stars (skies), connected to our lands and waterways. Keeping our dreaming stories, songlines, language, knowledge and future strong for all First Nations and generations to come.
Stories of the Stars (top section)
Dreamtime stories passed and retold to generations, moral, lore and social responsibility, seasonal teaching, creation, people, traditions, culture and history.
I have included symbols that represent the stories of the emu, Milky Way, Southern Cross, seven sisters and the morning star. On the edge of the stars sits our connection to our lands where the gum and black wattles stand on our soils with the palm tree on sandy soils stand connected to our travel tracks (blue and white symbol) as we remain connected to the skies. Attached to the stars and land a symbol of unity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women within the circle of peace. Representing the hibiscus flower and our painted breast as a symbol of peace, ceremony, resilient and passion for change, respect and justice.
Connection to Country (middle section)
Our ancestors remain embedded in the rocks, still a living culture, passing down to the next generation. Symbolizing the black images in the middle of the painting. Depicting totemic, social, culture and spiritual connectedness with country and people
The hands represent us all sending a personal message of Thank You. Our women have endured and done so much for us, rights, freedom, justice, equality. Attached to the bottom of the hands is the Red Poppy a symbol of the war representing our people who went to fight for country and us? They were treated unjustly, ripped country, culture and children from our breasts our people. Fought for a country that treated us like animals.
The first woman represents the Torres Strait Islander women carrying a dilly bag that represents culture. Depicting the symbol of the hibiscus flower on her head and dress that binds to country and story. Within the dilly bag we carry our culture, today the dilly bag may be a purse, port or another form of a container. But! Our culture we carry always within ourselves and many other ways. As our women fought and struggled on their journeys this they kept always and today. Our Culture!!
The middle woman is the Aboriginal women, with painted breast and forehead, a symbol of celebration, connected to the waterways and emu totem. Carrying the digging stick signifying the word ancient culture. Breaking away from the control of the white eye as the chains tied to our bodies are broken by the voice and endurance of our women. Chained and treated like animals as our women experienced during historic and painful times.
The next woman signifies all women as political voices in two worlds as we continue to make change, fight for justice, rights, equality, recognition and respect. This woman ties us historical, culturally and now to the walks, protest of the Torres Strait Pearlers strike in 1936, the Day of mourning in 1939 Cummeragunja Walk-Off, 1946 Pilbara pastorals worker’s strike, 1965 freedom Rides, the Wave Hill walk off in 1966, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy 1972, Ulura Statement, and today we are still in the debating and protest arena on matters (Native Title, Treaty, Constitutional Recognition)
This woman and the sign posts / Freedom, Justice, Equality, Yes.
- The justice and equality signs refer to the women who marched and protested for land rights, land ownership, sovereignty, services, employment, economic independence, education, compensation, education and racial discrimination.
- The Yes sign makes reference to the 1967 Referendum. A vote to amend the constitution to include Aboriginal people in the census and allow the Commonwealth to create laws for Aboriginal people. It may be said that the 1967 Referendum may have failed within the politically arena; however it was an achievement for our people and gave us hope to continue the fight and protest for our people rights. That continues today.
- The freedom sign makes reference to The Freedom Ride in support of our rights, discrimination, and segregation.
- The word terra nullius. We continue to prove sovereignty-land ownership through Native Title platforms. Proving to people this is our lands; we always have been connected where ever we may be across this country...
- Today under the banner of the Day of Mourning we continue the debate to change the 26th of January (noted as Australian Day= we call Invasion Day). The signs of freedom, justice and equality depict the debate and fight continues to make changes for the betterment of First Nations and Australians. You continue to celebrate what was not yours in the first place.
The feet together represent:
- Our people walking off country and stations, standing their ground on traditional soils to protest against intolerable working conditions, inadequate wages, rations, removal of children, mistreatment and controls methods of movement.
- The feet of our people on the Freedom Ride in support of our rights.
- Our people standing proud to fight for Constitutional, Native Title, Treaty Reforms and Rights.
The feet with Connect symbolize:
- Our feet remain on country always. Doesn’t matter where our bodies are, our voice echoes we stand with our people, side by side for the betterment of our First Nations. A united force.
The flags represent:
- The two cultures. Symbols of respect, proudness, united, power, change, identity, country, people, political platforms and the future.
Connection to Waterways (lower section)
On the edge of our lands we connect to our fresh waterways from the black, red and combinations soils to the salt waters with the sands connected between our toes. Paying respect, voices echoing as our people travelled (white, yellow and blue circles represent travel symbols.) Across the fresh and salt waterways for us all. Joined together by the stars, soils, salt and fresh water. Recognition, Respect, Rights, Justice. Equality, Education, Employment, Preservation, Transmission and celebration of Culture, language, country and the Arts.
Today the debates and fight continues!!!