In honour of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day, Tamworth Local Aboriginal Land Council’s Bumbira Arts and Culture Program and Opportunity Hub have joined forces to showcase the artistic talent of their local youth.

Bumbira Arts and Culture Program is dedicated to connecting and empowering local Gomeroi women and operates alongside Opportunity Hub that supports youth.

Joining forces, the two programs have brought together an event which will see children from preschool to high school celebrated for their creativity and culture through the “Proud in Culture and Strong in Spirit” Youth and Emerging Artists Exhibition.

The exhibition reflects the theme for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day (August 4) and will take place on Wednesday evening at the Opportunity Hub.

“We wanted to do something that can bring both programs together and showcase our youth in the community,” said Krystal Lamb, Project Officer at Bumbira.

“We have so many talented artists that are very young, we wanted to give them the spotlight and make them feel really valued and empowered.”

The exhibition will display work from three categories: two colouring-in competitions for preschool and primary school students and a canvas painting competition for high school students.

The colouring-in designs were created by staff at the Opportunity Hub and Bumbira, and reflect the theme “Proud in Culture, Strong in Spirit”.

“We’re wanting to make it an annual thing so that we can do it every year and have the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day theme be the theme of the exhibition,” said Lamb.

“We want this day to celebrate the youth in our town and in the community. We want to give the kids involved, who most have never had their work in an exhibition … We wanted to give them that start to build a portfolio as an artist.”

“Proud in Culture and Strong in Spirit” Youth and Emerging Artists Exhibition in Tamworth. Photo supplied by Opportunity Hub and Bumbira Arts and Culture Program.

Over 200 submissions were entered into the colouring-in competition, all from young artists from local preschool and primary schools.

The canvas painting exhibition saw six submissions, all from young women in the community.

“For some of these kids, this is the first time they’ve created Aboriginal artwork. It’s the first time they’ve been able to learn how to write a story through art, using culture,” said Lamb.

“It’s about that support, you might be the only one in that kid’s corner. It’s so important to show them that there are other things out there, they can use their talent for positive things.”

“It’s not being a show-off, it’s about them being talented and being proud of their skills and themselves.”

Bumbira also facilitates education programs in local preschools, teaching Dreaming stories and language through song.

There were plans for preschoolers to welcome the audience at the exhibition with performances and songs, however, due to COVID-19 the performance will be postponed until Christmas.

In line with COVID-19 public health safety, the Opportunity Hub will host the families of the young artists, the artists themselves and Bumbira and Opportunity Hub staff.

“For the opening, we’re going to have the families of the artists come down. We’re going to give them a tour, announce the winners of the colouring-in competition, give our certificates for the kids that have entered the canvas competition,” said Lamb.

“We’re going to go around and get the kids to speak up and tell what their artwork is about.

“It’s an opportunity for them to talk about their work. I hope they do step up, it might be hard for some of them as it is scary. But I’d love for them to stand up and be proud of what they’ve made.”

By Rachael Knowles