Shalom Gamarada Ngiyani Yana 2010

Lisa R Jackson Pulver
Med J Aust 2010; 192 (10): 572. || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb03639.x
Published online: 12 May 2011

The Shalom Gamarada scholarship program is funded both by the sale of work by Aboriginal artists at the annual, week-long Shalom Gamarada Ngiyani Yana exhibition and by the provision of scholarships by private donors and corporate sponsors. The name of the program comes from the term “gamarada ngiyani yana” in the Eora language and translates to “we walk together as friends.” “Shalom” is a Hebrew word, meaning peace and is part of the name of the Shalom College at the University of NSW. The program was founded in 2005. In 2010, the sixth exhibition and sale will run from 27th June to 4th July.

This year's contributors include the internationally renowned contemporary Indigenous artist, Judy Watson. Other artists include Regina Wilson, Weaver Jack, Jan Billycan and Shorty Jangala Robertson. There will be much sought after ceramic works from the Bagu community from Girringun in Queensland. This year, we will be displaying specially commissioned walls which will include works from Utopia and commissioned installations from Yuendumu and Peppimenarti. For the first time, the exhibition will present new work from the community of Martumili from the Pilbara.

Exhibition audiences will be offered a unique opportunity to experience an incredible and diverse range of Indigenous art practice from across Australia. Shalom Gamarada will showcase an extensive range of more than 120 stretched artworks hanging and many more unstretched works, some of which can be seen in this issue of the Journal (Box 1, Box 2, Box 3, Box 4, Box 5, Box 6, Box 7, Box 8, Box 9, Box 10), with a total value of over one million dollars. All artworks will be available for purchase, with prices ranging from a modest $150 to more than $25,000. Commissions from all art sales go to residential scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical students at Shalom College.

The Shalom Gamarada scholarship program was set up in 2005 to boost the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students attending the University of NSW and runs in partnership with the UNSW’s Shalom College and the Muru Marri Indigenous Health Unit.

Since its inception, the Shalom Gamarada Aboriginal art exhibition has been able to assist 24 students to study medicine, optometry and medical science, covering board and lodging expenses so students are able to focus solely on excelling in their studies. Each scholarship is valued at over $15 000 per year for the duration of the degree.

We graduated our first Shalom Gamarada doctor in December 2009, Dr Beth Kervan. This year, another scholarship recipient and UNSW’s first Aboriginal optometry student, Jenna Owen — who was the top student in 4th Year Optometry in 2009 — will graduate.

The dance of life (cover image)

Artist: Helen Milroy

The dance of life painting is the last in a series depicting a multidimensional model of health and wellbeing from an Aboriginal perspective. The final painting brings all of the dimensions together to reflect the delicate balance of life within the universe. The dimensions include the biological or physical dimension, the psychological or emotional dimension, the social dimension, the spiritual dimension and finally, but most importantly, the cultural dimension. Within each dimension, there are additional layers to consider, including the historical context, traditional and contemporary views as well as gaps in our knowledge.

The potential solutions for healing and restoration of wellbeing come from considering additional factors encompassing issues at the coalface of symptom presentation and service delivery, such as education and training, policy, sociopolitical context and international perspective. As this painting suggests, we can only exist if firmly grounded and supported by our community and spirituality, while always reflecting back on culture in order to hold our heads up high to grow and reach forward to the experiences life has waiting for us.

The stories of our ancestors, the collective grief as well as healing, begin from knowing where we have come from and where we are heading. From the Aboriginal perspective, carrying the past with you into the future is as it should be. We are nothing but for those who have been before, and the children of the future will look back and reflect on us today.

When we enable a person to restore all of the dimensions of their life, then we have achieved a great deal. When all of the dimensions are in balance within the universe, we can break free of our shackles and truly dance through life.

  • Lisa R Jackson Pulver

  • Muru Marri Indigenous Health Unit, University of New South Wales. Sydney, NSW



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