Jennell Reynolds in her new role as Aboriginal Arts Coordinator

Project participants and facilitators at the opening event for the Esperance Yarning and Healing Dolls exhibition, 19th October, in our pop up gallery on James Street.  Front row L-R: Roslyn Rivers, Brenda Stevens, Annie Dabb, Wanika Close, Bernice Masters. Back row L-R: Hayleigh Graham, Colleen Frost, Geri Hayden, Jane Mulcock, Marcelle Riley, Isabel Trneny.
Project participants and facilitators at the opening event for the Esperance Yarning and Healing Dolls exhibition, 19th October, in our pop up gallery on James Street. Front row L-R: Roslyn Rivers, Brenda Stevens, Annie Dabb, Wanika Close, Bernice Masters. Back row L-R: Hayleigh Graham, Colleen Frost, Geri Hayden, Jane Mulcock, Marcelle Riley, Isabel Trneny.

I have had an amazing six months in my new role as Aboriginal Arts Coordinator. This project has given me the opportunity to combine my love for my culture, community and the Arts. A key part of my role involves engaging the Esperance Aboriginal community to participate in Esperance’s vibrant and growing art scene, something I undervalued while growing up here.

This role has allowed me to respond the growing need for Aboriginal perspectives within our community, whether it be working with the Traditional Owners of Esperance, or working with the schools, so the younger generations don’t have a negative perception of Aboriginal people. Instead we hope they will understand that First Nations people have a rich culture and want to share and celebrate it with the wider community.

I feel like this position has developed and strengthened the working relationships between organisations, and between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community members in Esperance. Following the huge success of the Mandaboornap Puppet Project, the Esperance Yarning and Healing Dolls project has also been a success. Thanks must go to all the participants who created their unique yarning dolls over 12 months. Thanks also to Noongar artists Geri Hayden and Marcelle Riley, and our local doll-maker extraordinaire Colleen Frost. I think these age-old doll-making and eco-dyeing techniques will stay with me and others forever. This project brought our community together (Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal), even with our magnificent display of dolls, baskets and cushions, it is the stories along the way that are the real shining stars. You can see the display at the Esperance Public Library or at Esperance Community Arts Space from November 7. We are also compiling a catalogue. Other art events in November include Esperance Senior High School’s production of The Jungle Book at the Bijou Theatre on November 9. There are 6 performances and tickets can be purchased from ESHS reception. The Hard Pressed 2017 touring Exhibition opens at the Cannery Arts Centre on November 10 at 6.30pm. Five local artists helped to create one of the large woodcut prints in the exhibition. You will be able to see amazing large-scale woodcuts by 70 artists from around the state, printed with a steamroller on Geraldton’s foreshore. For more information contact us on 9072 1158, or email, admin@esperancecommunityarts.org.au or visit 67 Dempster street on Tuesday – Friday.