Aboriginal artists receive arts funding

STORYTELLING: Indigenous artists Rod Gardner and Adam Thompson receive funding to further develop their art practices. Picture: Scott Gelston

STORYTELLING: Indigenous artists Rod Gardner and Adam Thompson receive funding to further develop their art practices. Picture: Scott Gelston

Two Launceston-based Aboriginal artists will receive funding to further develop and explore their creative abilities. 

Emerging visual artist Rodney Gardner and emerging writer Adam Thompson have been named among the six Aboriginal artist to receive funding through the Arts Tasmania’s Aboriginal Arts funding program. 

Artists were chosen based on their ability to share the state’s unique cultural and contemporary history through their practice. 

For Gardner drawing always came naturally. “I’ve always been the artist in the family,” he said. But up until two-years-ago it was a skill he never took too seriously. 

Gardner began taking online classes to help him develop his craft. Receiving the grant money has enabled him to be mentored by artist Jonathan Bowden.

The pair meet weekly to discuss and practice drawing. “[Bowden] helps with my confidence,” Gardner said. The grant money is helping the artist develop a body of work for his first solo exhibition. “I think it is great that the [Aboriginal] community is telling our own stories,” he said. 

Author Kate Gordon will mentor Thompson as part of his funding grant. 

Thompson hopes to develop 12 short stories that will explore and focus on Aboriginal life and characters. 

The stories are fiction, but they tackle issues like racism, identity and belonging, which still plague the Aboriginal community.

“When you introduce these concepts in a short story that is entertaining and fictional, [people] walk away having a bit more of an understanding about those important issues in our community,” he said.

As a member of the community and someone who has worked in Aboriginal services, Thompson said he was exposed to a lot of concepts of sovereignty, self-determination and identity. “I think they are important issues for the wider community to try to understand,” he said. 

Thompson and Gardner agreed that the support they received from Arts Tasmania program officer of Aboriginal arts Denise Robinson gave them confidence to believe in their art.

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