Narooma Aboriginal artist Catherine Rogers recently received the Highly Commended award for 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year at TAFE South West Sydney Institute at Campbelltown.
Ms Rogers has been travelling up to Sydney several times a week for her studies and is currently completing her Certificate IV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Art.
A member of the Awabakal people from Lake Macquarie, she now lives in the Narooma area where she finds lots of inspiration for her artwork.
She said it was really rewarding to be studying and the help she gets from meeting face-to-face with the teachers is a great help for when she gets back to her studio.
“The award recognises what you have overcome to complete your studies, things the teachers saw in you and your attitude to the work,” Ms Rogers said.
Although she has only been painting for about a year in the contemporary and traditional Aboriginal style she was excited to recently have her first piece of artwork, entitled “Migaloo”, sell after being displayed at John Hunter Hospital as part of its NAIDOC Week exhibition.
She previously displayed Migaloo and another artwork at the 2016 Mil-Pra AECG exhibition at the Casula Powerhouse Art Centre, and had also had artwork displayed at the Apma Creations Aboriginal art gallery at Central Tilba.
Her artist’s description for her painting of Migaloo the white whale reads as follows:
“Migaloo (Whitefella) is a rare white Humpback Whale. Being a 'fair skinned' Aboriginal, I empathise with him being called 'hyper-pigmented' (ie low in pigment). When I stand next to an indigenous person, they don't see me, because I'm not instantly recognisable as Aboriginal.”
“Similarly, when I identify as Aboriginal, at a doctor's surgery or Centrelink etc. I'm often faced with a look of disbelief. I imagine Migaloo equally struggling to communicate to others of his kind: I'm the same as you, On the outside, And inside, It's just my skin, My skin is 'different’...”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.