The 2022 National Reconciliation Week theme is ‘Be Brave. Make Change’ and it’s a challenge to all Australians— individuals, families, communities, organisations and government— to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can make change for the benefit of all Australians.
Part of our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan, which we developed with Reconciliation Australia, is to continue to build lasting relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and one way we’re doing that, is by partnering with indigenous artists and giving back to communities and charities of their choice. Last year, we worked with Niah Mcleod, a descendant of the Monero, Wandandian and Yuin people from south-eastern Australia and this year, we are very proud to be launching an iteration of our beloved Golden Wattle Pendant in collaboration with Lily Bennett.
Lily is a Barkindji woman who began painting after her father, an incredible indigenous artist, passed away. She says it brought her peace knowing that she could follow in his artistic footsteps and continue their traditional family practice.
Here, we chat with Lily about our collaboration, her creative inspiration and evolution as an artist and find out more about the things that have contributed to who she is today.
Can you tell us a little bit about your creative evolution as an artist and when you started exploring your creative abilities?
I began to explore my creative abilities in a time of loss and grief. Painting traditionally allowed me to connect to a deeper part of my self and learn more of my background and ancestry.
A major defining moment in life for me was when I travelled around outback Australia with my family and visited our indigenous relatives and learned of our family history. I lived and learned on country with our traditional family, and this simple way of life allowed us to recognise that what we really need in life are not 'things'. What’s truly important is how much we appreciate nature and spend time in it. To learn from Australia’s first peoples and listen to what our hearts are telling us.
We’re so thrilled to be working with you on a commissioning piece in celebration of this year’s Reconciliation Week theme, ‘Be Brave, Make Change”. What does this theme mean to you?
This theme means a lot to me. It’s always important in life to be brave. Be the brave voice for those who haven’t the words to share of their suffering and loss of culture.
Be the brave example of what it is to be an indigenous woman in a world that has tried to destroy our culture, forcibly removing our children from their rightful homes, be a proud indigenous woman and be brave to share your culture, creative gifts, and story’s.
Make a change by leading by example. Go out and visit your local indigenous councils, question what they need, listen to their stories and re-learn Australia’s past because if we as a nation can’t swallow the bitter pill of our past, how can we walk into the future with transparency and honesty. How can we heal the indigenous people’s trauma if we don’t know what that trauma was?
What story does this exclusive Nhurali Pendant tell?
The Nhurali Pendant represents to me that many beautiful people and businesses are all wanting to be more involved in the indigenous people’s lives. And this piece shows such a beautiful representation of Natalie Marie’s openness and kind consideration of Australia’s indigenous culture and an indigenous artist being able to work together to create something truly beautiful and supportive of true reconciliation between cultures.
Reconciliation Australia is asking everyone to make change beginning with brave actions in their daily lives – where they live, work, play and socialise. What changes would you love to see implemented now, and in the future?
I would love for people to hold less prejudice on aboriginal people within Australia and learn about their past traumas so they can recognise what changes need to be made to heal many indigenous individuals.
I feel that every school should have compulsory Aboriginal studies to learn of things in a past and ways to support and share the joys of culture and traditional life.
But I also believe if every Australian parent educated their children on all different races and that no matter what we look like, how were coloured etc we are all made up of the same cloth and we all have hearts and feelings.
Discover the Nhurali Pendant here, with 25% of sale proceeds donated to Lily’s charity of choice, Gunawirra a community-led not-for-profit that works closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families, children, and communities to reach their full potential.