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From Aboriginal culture to canvas: a journey of artistic history

From Aboriginal culture to canvas: a journey of artistic history

For more than 25 years Debra Beale has been an avid fan of conceptualising and creating unique artworks, putting her skills into practice whenever she can.

The Sydney-based artist and designer comes from the Gamilaraay/Wonnarua and Palawa/Yorta Yorta Nations.

She channels her creative abilities and works with an array of mediums including; acrylics on canvas, jewellery, printmaking, ceramics, textiles and fashion, photography, prints and graphic art.

“I often make jewellery and use Australian gumnuts, Australian bush seeds and plants. I also do paintings which I have now turned into prints,” she enthused.

In 2009, Debra was a finalist in the NSW Indigenous Parliament Art Awards, and between 2006 to 2007 her work was chosen for the Sydney Christmas light show and the christening of the P&O cruise ship Pacific Dawn.

Currently studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts (majoring in textiles) with Honours at UNSW College of Fine Arts, Debra has no plans to slow down.

Her most recent work titled Wonnaruais featured on a billboard to welcome people to Wonnarua/Wanaruah Country as part of NRMA’s mission to help increase awareness about the traditional lands of First Nations people.

“My artwork tells a narrative of my Aboriginal cultural practices, focusing on cultural heritage, family and community,” she said.

“It’s a combination of acknowledging the past and moving forward to the future. It represents a healing journey.”

Debra said she can’t wait to see her artwork on the New England Highway and can’t express enough how much it means to her that Indigenous art is being showcased on such a large scale.

“I’m excited! I’m going to drive up and have a look,” she said. “I’ll take my kids up and my grandchildren.”

Debra’s ancestors are buried in Singleton and the Beale family is a big name in the area.

“Beale Creek was named after the family,” she said.

Connection to country, family and community is exactly what her artwork depicts.

“My inspiration behind the artwork is my identity, my cultural practices, and the landscape,” Debra said.

“My inspiration has also come from the negative things that have happened in my family’s life and it’s about recovering and moving on.”

Having come from Wonnarua Country, Debra has a deep connection to the land and the area surrounding Singleton.

“Having my artwork displayed is important to me as an Aboriginal woman because it’s about family and having that family stay connected and stay connected to their culture,” she said.

“Growing up as a child, we always travelled that highway. Seeing the landscape and that along the way has a connection to me. My artwork is connected to the landscape. It’s connected to my spirituality.”

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