Preserving cultures – extending international friendships

Lionel Lovett (back) of Parkes Public Primary School and Parkes Wiradjuri Language Group; and front, Sunfield and  Ub Ubbo members, Jason (Nacho) Murchie (music producer), Scott (Sauce) Towney, and Tom Orr recording Wiradjuri language at Holy Family Primary School.
Lionel Lovett (back) of Parkes Public Primary School and Parkes Wiradjuri Language Group; and front, Sunfield and Ub Ubbo members, Jason (Nacho) Murchie (music producer), Scott (Sauce) Towney, and Tom Orr recording Wiradjuri language at Holy Family Primary School.

Work of Parkes Shire artists is featuring prominently at an international exhibition of art celebrating ancestral heritage.

Clay work produced by Peak Hill artist Scott (Sauce) Towney this year at Sagada cultural hub in northern Philippines, is part of the current event at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts (UPCFA).

Northern Kankan-ay (Indigenous Filipino) ceramicist Lope Bosaing has cast in clay, wood carving by Parkes artist Scott Turnbull now part of the exhibition.

Parkes art facilitator, Sean James Cassidy, curated work of indigenous and non indigenous artists from both countries at the exhibition supported by the UPCFA and the Australian Embassy in Manila.

The exhibition includes pieces by students at UPCFA Ceramics, produced at workshops recently conducted by the university and the international art group Ub Ubbo.

These workshops, titled Unearthing Past Voices – Sowing Future Visions, form an important part of the Dadad-At (Express Through Art) event, and enable students to study their ancestral art inheritance.

Clay works inspired by ancient iconography from pottery, traditional dance, tribal music and textile patterns, are on display with the work of elders.

This current event is a culmination of a series of exhibitions and art activities in both countries, including workshops and exhibitions in Parkes in 2014-15, raising the profile of Wiradjuri iconography.

Ub Ubbo conducted art classes at Parkes Public and Holy Family primary schools in 2014, promoting closing the gap and reconciliation.

These classes enabled students to prepare work for an exhibition at Parkes Shire Library this year, which also featured paintings and pyrography by Scott Turnbull and Scott (Sauce) Towney, and photography by Henry Garriock of Parkes.

The majority of the art pieces in the library event, included Wiradjuri symbols, and titles of the works were in the Wiradjuri language.

A recent edition of the international magazine, Artlink Indigenous Global, carries images (from photographs by  Henry Garriock) of the work of Lope Bosaing, Scott Towney and Scott Turnbull, shown at Parkes Library.

Ruben Allas, who later wrote the Artlink story, travelled to Parkes to open the exhibition.

Ub Ubbo is celebrating eight years of bringing together disparate cultural and ethnic groups in Australia and the Philippines.

Members from 21 years of age to 75, have taken up opportunities created by Ub Ubbo in remote regions of Australia and the Philippines.

The international art group, has adopted a unique region to region collective to best support and promote the work of burgeoning and experienced art workers in both countries.

Ub Ubbo has encouraged indigenous and non indigenous artists to use their work to assist in the preservation of ancient cultures and the discovery of new avenues of expression.

Ub Ubbo has a diverse membership, including people from towns, villages and outlying communities.

United Nations office bearers, academics, teachers, farmers, rural workers, people from affluent areas and others from slums, are represented in Ub Ubbo.

Ub Ubbo artists strive for professional excellence and the sharing of creative ideas among members. Many of them are the best at their craft in the region, and arguably the world.

In its eight years, Ub Ubbo has organised a total of 10 cultural exchanges, 12 exhibitions and five music concerts in Australia and the Philippines.

Wiradjuri artist, Scott Towney spoke about his involvement.

‘Through art, especially over the past eight years, I have been able to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds.

‘These people have provided the support an artist requires to function effectively. They have become my brothers and sisters.’

Early this year, Parkes Sunfield Records music producer, Jason Nacho Murchie, Scott Towney, Henry Garriock and Sean James Cassidy travelled on cultural exchange to the northern Philippines to conduct music workshops and to learn ceramic art.

As part of the exchange, they visited the University of the Philippines to meet students and professors.

Indigenous film makers, El Garahe of the Philippines Mountain Province documented the exchange.

0rganisers of a 2016 Asian music and art festival, have requested images of the work for inclusion at the event.

Art works, including an interactive mural, which involved local school students at Bushman’s Hill, were major contributors to the winning of the 2015 national award for local government promoting indigenous recognition.

Sean James Cassidy, who facilitated the barbecue area mural activity, and was involved in other cross cultural events, won the Parkes Shire 2015 Australia Day cultural award.

Di Garner, previously art teacher at Parkes High School and Red Bend Catholic College (RBCC), Forbes, commented on her experiences with Ub Ubbo, including the Bushman’s Hill project.

`Creativity thrives on imagination, involvement and a sense of accomplishment.

`Working with Sean James Cassidy, a former RBCC student of mine, and Scott Towney in an atmosphere of collaboration to produce murals for the cultural precinct, nourished those students who participated.

`Together, as a united community, nurtured by the practicing artists’   patience and guidance, everyone created artworks of visual and social significance,’ Ms Garner said.

Parkes Reconciliation Group is supporting the current events in the Philippines, a mirror and continuation of the events in Parkes.

Next year the group will support screening of short documentaries on the cultural exchanges.

Parkes Wiradjuri Language Group has also backed the current activities including clay workshops and exhibition at the College of Fine Arts in Manila.

The language group has supported all Ub Ubbo cultural events since 2010.

Sunfield Records has been working with the language group and Ub Ubbo to produce a Wiradjuri song, for release exactly 12 months after the conclusion of the Parkes Library closing the gap and reconciliation exhibition on International Mother Tongue Day.