Top WA artist, students bring touch of home onto Campus

Notre Dame unveils canvas reflecting colours, symbols and stories of Indigenous students

Aboriginal artist Neta Knapp with ‘Manjaree Mia Kaart’ - a major piece of art documenting more than 40,000 years of Aboriginal stories and culture in Australia.

6 December 2017

Top WA Indigenous artist, Juanetia (Neta) Knapp, and a team of Aboriginal students at The University of Notre Dame Australia have completed a major work of art designed to bring the colours, symbols and stories of their lands onto the Fremantle Campus.

The 5.5m X 2.2m painting, which took nearly two months to complete was unveiled today (Wednesday 6 December) at the University’s Manjaree Place, a meeting place for Aboriginal students which opened in June this year to coincide with National Reconciliation Week.

Ms Knapp worked as Artist in Residence at Manjaree Place to plan the creative content and guide the students, who have come to study at Notre Dame from all over Australia, in the intricacies of Aboriginal art.

Titled ‘Manjaree Mia Kaart’ (meaning: a place of learning, a place of history and a place of spiritual journey of knowledge) depicts the bold colours of the land and the sea, and features images such as turtles, kangaroos and fish which all have special meaning to individual students.

“When Aboriginal students come to Notre Dame from across Australia and see the colours of this artwork, they will be able to relate to the stories being told in the painting which will remind them of home,” said Ms Knapp.

“It is important to have a painting like this because it documents our 40,000-year history – from how men tracked kangaroos through the bush to the range of traditional medicines used and customs practiced over time. The painting highlights the ongoing spiritual and cultural significance of Aboriginal culture in Australia.”

Associate Professor Clive Walley, Director of Indigenous Education at Notre Dame, said this important project will further encourage dialogue about Nyungar and Aboriginal cultural ways in the heart of Fremantle.

“Throughout the year, many Notre Dame students have visited Manjaree Place between classes to complete assignments and study for exams. The inclusion of this significant piece of art to this meeting space will make students feel at home – surrounded by the stories, colours and memories from their home on Country,” Associate Professor Walley said.

Project Coordinator from the School of Medicine, Louise Austen, said the painting was a great example of reconciliation in action and gave Notre Dame staff and students an opportunity to work alongside Nyungar Elders.

“This painting conveys deep meanings of belonging and connection to Country for Aboriginal staff and students at Notre Dame. Through the vision of Neta and all those who contributed to this important project, Notre Dame continues to embrace the sharing of culture, stories and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” Ms Austen said.

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