Image credit: Rebecca Atkinson ‘Yellow and Black Cockatoos’ 2022
Biyala Ngarring (Red Gum Tree - Black Cockatoo) by Rebecca Atkinson
Rebecca Atkinson is a culturally strong Moiradu woman from the Bangerang Nation on her father’s side, and Kerrupmara woman from the Gunditjmara Nation on her mother’s side. Based in Shepparton, Victoria she creates artwork under her artistic design name Nurratj Galnya meaning ‘dream sweet’ in Bangerang language.
The creative influences of her upbringing, and the surrounding landscapes of her Country, where her connection to culture is embedded, are the framework for her art. She enjoys expressing her identity and culture though her art practice.
Atkinson’s artwork acknowledges the important Aboriginal history of the area now known as the City of Yarra. Her work focuses on native plants and animals, and in particular birds. Atkinson reminds us that nature was thriving in this space long before the built environment interrupted the landscape and man-made structures began to diminish their homes and shelter. In creating these creatures in a frenzy of bright colours and at a momentous scale, she ensures that we can’t ignore them and the impact we have had, and continue to have, on their environment. As she brings Australian native flora and fauna sharply into focus, Atkinson highlights the critical role these creatures play in our lives and within the ecosystem.
Atkinson works across a range of materials including painting, weaving, ceramics, photography and digital media to share her story, cultural knowledge and connection to Country. She began learning to paint at the age of eight, when her father Kevin Atkinson Junior began to pass his skills on to her. Atkinson paints in a style specific to Bangerang people. Bangerang People are the People of the tall trees. Bangerang Country extends across the North-east of Victoria (including Shepparton where Rebecca lives), through to the Southern Riverina Murray region of New South Wales, from the Campaspe River in the west, through to the Ovens River in the east.
Rebecca has won several prizes and awards for her artworks, and her work has been featured in several exhibitions. She is frequently commissioned to create artworks for specific projects, and has designed and created pieces for organisations including: the Council of Australian Government (GOAG) for Shepparton; Bunjilaka, Melbourne Museum; Aboriginal Housing Office; Bangerang Cultural Centre; Picola United Football and Netball Clubs; Greater Shepparton Secondary College; Rumbalara Aboriginal Co-operative; BreastScreen Victoria; the University of Melbourne; Birth, Deaths, and Marriages Victoria; Black Eagles Basketball Club; Albury Wodonga Aboriginal Health Service; Trust for Nature; Whorouly Football Netball Club; Melbourne Vixens; and Richmond Kindergarten.
The exhibition is showing from Monday 11 September 2023 to Sunday 29 October 2023.