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27 May 2020

Chris Crebbin: Artist in Residence

Blackfriars was fortunate enough to host Aboriginal Artist Chris Crebbin as Artist in Residence…

Blackfriars was fortunate enough to host Aboriginal Artist Chris Crebbin as Artist in Residence in Term 1 this year, thanks to the Catholic Education South Australia Aboriginal Education Program.

Chris, who paints under his Aboriginal name, Burthurmarr (meaning brolga and native companion), worked closely with our Year 7 and Year 9 Visual Arts students to help them respectfully explore and understand Aboriginal Arts and Cultural traditions.

Chris is a brilliant storyteller and we are grateful for his openness to share such personal insights into racism, identity and his own family’s struggles. This unique opportunity and extension of time over the term allowed our students to build strong relationships with Chris and each other, helping them feel more comfortable to ask questions and explore both artistic techniques and sociocultural issues.

Our students have learnt that Aboriginal Art is not a style that can be replicated by non-Indigenous artists. Aboriginal Art is Culture and to simply replicate this would be inappropriate and insensitive. However, Chris was able to lead our non-Aboriginal students to an understanding of this by exploring artistic symbols and techniques sacred to the culture of Aboriginal peoples.

Blackfriars Head of Creative Arts and Design Technology, Emily Kenny, said this experience was priceless for her students in helping them understand the importance of recognising and respecting the traditions and culture of Australia’s First Peoples.

‘To work together as Australians respect must be shown and followed,’ she said.

‘The relationship we have with each other needs to be positive to move forward as a nation and respecting the culture of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is the first step.’

‘As a group we reflected on the experience and it was pleasing to see that students saw the value of this opportunity. We are all so grateful to Chris for sharing his expertise with us.’

This Reconciliation Week, we are called to explore the theme “In this together”. We ask ourselves how we can play our part in our own community to support, nourish and respect the culture of our traditional landowners.

For more information about National Reconciliation Week, please visit the official website here.

Here are some reflections from the students who took part in this initiative…

Jordan Deutrom
Not only is Chris an accomplished artist, he is an extremely kind and caring person. His knowledge and teachings have allowed my artistic skills to develop and form an understanding of important Aboriginal artistic techniques. He also has taught me the importance of always being culturally and racially respectful, to all cultures and people. I wish him all the best and I can’t wait to see more of his artwork in the coming years.

Noah Holland
Chris taught me a lot about Aboriginal symbols and I found it interesting to learn about the Aboriginal culture. He was an engaging mentor and I believe that I have learnt a lot in my short time spent with him.

Du Dao
I really enjoyed painting with Chris because I experienced the Aboriginal culture and got the chance to express my feelings through painting on the canvas. I learnt lots from Chris, like drawing kangaroos, placing dots, creating patterns and lots of symbols too.

Xuan Thai Nguyen
Thanks, Chris! For all the good times and telling us about Aboriginal culture – we really enjoyed it! The techniques really helped us out a lot!