Orana Arts discovered Colin Brooks Jnr. successfully working as a contemporary dot and line painter in Narromine. Being invited to join The Left Field program gave him a whole new perspective on Aboriginal art.

“It’s really good working in a group, in a collective, because it gives you a broader spectrum on Aboriginal art, on what they do, and how they work. How ideas all come together, and we join them up, and find out what's best for us. We all support each other really well.” says Colin.

Through Left Field Colin discovered sculpture, which has become a major part of his practice. His work in the exhibition Faith, “Home Sweet Home” is a sculptural installation inspired by family history.  “It’s about my grandfather and how my father and my Aunties grew up in an Aboriginal humpy. Whenever they moved from town to town, they'd build one out of tin. Kerosene tins were what they used to build them out of. Tin, old tin that they could find. I made an imitation of one of the old ones.”

A voiceover of Colin’s father talking about what it was like growing up and living in a humpy, plays from within his work.  “He said it wasn't that hard living in them, and that's all they really had, so that's how they had to live.”

News of the 1967 Referendum didn’t make it far inland.  “It didn't mean much to Dad, because he was out here in the West and things like that happened politically, mainly in Sydney and Canberra. He wasn't a part of that group of people.’ says Colin. “I knew the Aboriginals used to march, and the Tent Embassies, and they used to protest for equality. I didn’t learn about the Referendum myself until this program. I thought it was good that they actually did something for the Aboriginals, but it didn't really filter out to the Bush that much.”

While it may have taken a while for the impact to reach the heartland Colin’s dad did feel the reverberations eventually.  The Referendum might have had a mixed legacy but perhaps without it organisations like Orana Arts wouldn’t exist to discover and nurture a new generation of contemporary Aboriginal artists like Colin.

Faith continues until 19 November and features work from The Left Field Collective artists: Colin Brooks Jnr, Lachlan Goolagong, Aleshia Londsdale, Paris Norton and Alex  Nixon and mentor artists Blak Doulgas, Karla Dickens, Nicole Monks, Chico Monks and Jason Wing.

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