Familiar faces of both past and present Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Elders are currently on display at the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum, in time for this year’s NAIDOC Week celebrations. Community Elders, Past and Present showcases a section of Gooreng Gooreng and Bailai (Byelle) family photographs from the Gallery & Museum’s historical archives.
Featuring images from World War I days through to more recent times, the exhibition gives an insight into the strength and community spirit of well-known locals, including the Johnson, Yow-Yeh, Roe and Eggmolesse families.
Emotive images of families celebrating important milestones are displayed beside photographs of Elders called upon to lead important parades and ceremonies for the region. Over seventy photographs are linked with the theme of ‘family’ at their core.
Lest We Forget those Indigenous Soldiers who took to battle in support of Australia, such as James Lingwoodock of the Light Horse Regiment, and Private Charles Edwin Roe. Nor will the community forget local sporting heroes, Middleweight Boxing Champion, Hector Johnson, or Balmain and Redcliffe Football Star, Kevin Yoh Yeh.
Also included within the exhibition is a video of a past ‘Arts NAIDOC’ event held at the Gallery & Museum. The footage shows young children walking the runway for a Community Fashion Parade; children who are now most certainly young adults. Prior to the parade, Aunty Jacqueline delivers her traditional Welcome to Country speech: “Respect the past; Believe in the future.” Her inspiring words are still as valid now as they were then.
Community Elders, Past and Present is on display until 27 August 2016. The Gallery & Museum is opened 10am – 5pm, Monday to Saturday.