News • 16 Nov 2021

Connection to Country at work. Indigenous Support Worker gifts artwork to his workplace

Connection to Country at work. Indigenous Support Worker gifts artwork to his workplace

Thomas, Support Worker in Lismore, has painted indigenous artwork for display in our NSW offices, to depict the aboriginal land where our clients and staff live.

 

Thomas is a 46 year old Aboriginal man of the Bundjalung (Lismore Widjabul) & Yaegl Country’s/Nations.

He has been with Open Minds for over three years and has a lived experience of mental illness.

He has been creating art his whole life, and wanted to create this painting to add some colour to the offices, whilst educating any onlookers of the aboriginal lands on which we work.

Thomas said “Art is my selfcare strategy, it soothes me when I’m stressed and reminds me to be mindful of the here and now.

“In the future I want to use my art skills to demonstrate the importance of art for selfcare, and how people can use art to express and calm themselves in times of stress.”

Thomas chose the following symbols to include in his painting:

  • The horseshoe symbols represent ‘humans/peoples’ with aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.
  • The four circles symbolise ‘campsite/communities.’
  • The circles with four lines going outwards represent ‘meeting place’, where we meet our participants on country.
  • Native plants with black stumps with green stringy leaves are ‘Blackboy plants’. You may see them around as city councils put them on roundabouts.
  • Native wildlife – our connection and symbiotic relationship with Country, ‘Caring For Country’.
  • Blue, white and greenish dot lines represent sea currents and waves.
  • Whales and dolphins – included because Thomas “just loves them, they soothe my mental health”. He also used to go on walks with clients along the shore and spot them together.

 

Rik Barker, Clinical / Regional Manager, Service Delivery NSW, said: “We are extremely grateful for Thomas’ gift to Open Minds of this painting. It’s a fantastic depiction of first nation country’s which make up the local area where our clients and staff live. I am sure clients and staff will feel inspired and connected when they see this painting as they enter our offices.”