The Southern Highland News would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land, the Gundungurra people of the Gundungurra Nation. We also pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded.
Award-winning Gunai author Kirli Saunders is starting conversations about decolonisation, feminism, liberation and black joy in Robertson with her first ever solo art exhibition.
The artist and poet's paintings, prints, fibres, films, digital creations and her traditionally sewn possum skin cloak, which was created under the guidance of Aunty Loretta Parsley, tell stories of social justice, culture and the power of the community.
"This body of art and poetry is the work of Returning to a truer self", the former Mittagong resident said.
"It is a journal of unfurling and remembering all the ways I know how to come back to old ways, to kin, country and to myself."
Ms Saunders has ties to ties to the Yuin, Gundungurra, Gadigal and Biripi people.
The exhibition will open on November 27 and run to December 23 at the SHAC in Robertson.
Attendees will discover the exhibition's message immediately with the the words Mate, you're standing on stolen land on the floor once they enter the gallery.
The exhibition is a collaborative effort with First Nations custodians, elders, artists, consultants and academics such as Yuin woman Aunty Loretta Parsley, Yuin and Dhunghutti man Adrian Webster and Gumbaynggirr woman Dr Lilly Brown.
Ms Saunders also worked with her local community, filmmaker Tad Souden and choreographer Jo Clancy.
"Throughout Returning, I've sought to understand the past and ongoing impacts of colonisation for myself and my family and created art and writing that talks to these experiences," she said.
"I've honed the identity I self-determine, rather than accepting that put upon us as First Nations women."
The exhibition has been supported by Red Room Poetry, Magabala Books, the Oranges & Sardines Foundation, the Illawarra Women's Health Centre and the national government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
Her work also featured in the Eden Unearthed exhibition alongside Kangaloon designer and sculptor Penny Simmons in 2016.
The University of Wollongong, Google and the Department of Education have also commissioned her work.
Her literary works have been recognised by the Prime Minister's, QLD, WA and Victorian Premier's Literary Awards, Australian Book Industry Awards, Kate Challis RAKA, Australian Book Designer's Association, Speech Pathology, and Children's Book Council of Australia awards.
Highlanders can come along for the opening of the exhibition from 4pm to 6pm on November 27, and can reserve their spot here.
A welcoming and smoking ceremony will commence on the day at 4.30pm and all attendees must be fully vaccinated.
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