Logan’s multicultural narrative is one of misunderstanding and prejudice, leading to an underlying culture of fear and fragmentation. But the expressive, social and participatory nature of arts culture means that it is one of the most effective tools in challenging these fears and examining our behaviours and values. By exploring different perspectives, the arts have the capacity to generate understanding and empathy, an important first step toward creating a community where each of us feels connected and valued.
In our discussions on community last month we found the benefits of art practices are multi-layered. As outsiders, the greater community benefits, gaining insight and perspective of the artist’s own values in addition to those of the culture. The artist also finds value in creating and sharing a part of themselves and their background. As such, cultural art becomes a fundamental part of the narrative of understanding local diversity because it is inclusive by definition.
For locals like Lakshmi Giddaluru, aka Laxmi, turning to art and attending art classes in Brisbane gave her a sense of authenticity and connectivity. She came to Australia as a mechanical engineer from Nellore, a city in the South Indian State of Andhra Predesh to live with her husband and decided to pursue her art. Essentially it became a tool for looking within and connecting with her community.
“I always believed that doing something you love will give you the utmost satisfaction as a person than trying or pretending to be someone you are not.”
Laxmi says her inspiration comes from within, but says she uses external elements such as nature to express herself and she is also influenced by her diversified culture and traditional upbringing.
“Life in your hands – I am of the opinion that, one shapes their own future and life based on the kind of things they do. If your mind is blank or negative, your doings won’t reflect anything. On the other hand, if your mind is creative, your doings are more colourful and pleasing to the world. I see the world in a colourful way with different emotions and that is what I felt when painting this one.” Laxmi.
She calls India “the land of festivals” and it is easy to see how her vibrant and colourful paintings are influenced by her culture. In particular she mentioned Holi, a festival of colours, love and mirth, Diwali, a festival of lights as well as the deity festivals, Durga Puja and the Ganesh Puja, all of which embody the celebration of good over evil, love, mirth and joyousness through colours and light, feasts, plays and decorations. She has also recreated works from artists such as Leonid Afremov, whose paintings are known for their distinct painting style, their colours and emotional impact.
The concept of abstract art also appeals to Laxmi. She says by definition abstract art challenges the viewer to see an idea without “having physical or concrete existence…each individual can have their own opinion. If the audience can get the pulse of the artist I think, such abstract can gel.”
Traditional Indian Women during the 1800 – Recreation of an Indian artist’s paintings during the 1800s. His name is “Raja Ravi Varma”. He was the one that actually put faces for different gods in an art/painting medium. Until then it was only sculptures and idols in temples. He revolutionised art in India during that time. I wanted to do something different to one of his art works and hence selected this work and did a mural painting. I like to experiment and stand out and hence this experiment. I hold this close to my heart as this one of my first major experiments when I was still in India. Laxmi.
Laxmi wants to expand her practice and collaborate and exhibit more of her work. She runs art classes for children and is experienced with Henna body art decoration. If you would like to get in touch please see the links below.
Papua New Guinean people make up a small part of our dynamic community and these colourful images of PNG culture by artist Nerius Toule, highlight the extreme differences in societies that we are used to. But they also serve another purpose, to raise awareness of different cultures that are dying out in their countries.
Though Nerius was fortunate enough to get an education in PNG, he struggled and repeated his grades many times during his school years. When he finally graduated, his parents expected him to go to teachers or nursing college but Nerius always dreamed of being an artist, and in particular he wanted to study graphic design.
His works now use colour, texture and repetition to share the varied facets of PNG tribal and traditional culture. Nerius does his viewers a service by supplying background information about each piece, which for his audience across the world brings important context, filling in the stories behind the work to give them more meaning.
“Malagan Mask (alt spelling Malangan or Malanggan). Malagan ceremonies are larger, intricate traditional cultural events that take place in parts of New Ireland Province of PNG. The word Malagan refers to wood carvings for ceremonies and to an entire system of traditional culture. The ceremonies are large, irregular and complex events, taking several days and requiring months or years of preparation. It is always held in the name(s) of people who have recently deceased, it is not just a mortuary rite. Many other activities such as announcements, repayment of debts, recognition of obligations and resolution of disputes are customary among other things. Malagan carvings, are wooden carvings which are created for use in the Malagan ceremonies. Traditionally burnt or placed in a cave to rot, in modern times are retained as the carving tradition is only known to a few. Malagan culture is the general term for traditional culture in the area where Malagan ceremonies take place, covering much of Northern Ireland Province, although many other ceremonies and traditional practices take place in this large and complex cultural system.”
“Baining Firedance of Rabaul, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea. The Baining Masks are made from bush material, bamboos and reads for framework, bark, cloth, tree sap and berries for dyes, vines for lashing, bird feathers and leaves for decoration. They are laboriously made and used just once for the firedance ceremony before being thrown away or destroyed. The origin of these firedance ceremonies was to celebrate the birth of new children, the commencement of harvests and also a way of remembering the dead. The Baining firedance is also a rite of passage for initiating young men into adulthood. The fire dance is a men-only event and traditionally the Baining women and children neither partake nor watch.”
“Duk-Duk is a secret society, part of the traditional culture of the Tolai people of Rabaul area of New Britain, the largest island in the Bismark Archipelago of PNG, in the South Pacific. It represents a form of law and order through its presiding spirits. In the ritual dances, members of the society invoke the male spirit Duk-Duk and the female spirit Tubuan depending on the mask the dancer wears. The dancers are always male and women and children are forbidden to look upon these figures. The society was closed to outsiders upon pain of death and Duk-Duk only appeared with the full moon. Dancers wearing the Tubuan masks were regarded as divine beings whose judgement could not be questioned. The societies practise has been dying out since around the start of the 20th century and the Duk-Duk dancers are now featured as tourist attractions.”
Nerius’s digital paintings offer a unique way of sharing the indigenous tribal culture of his homeland. And his modern spin is effective. The images, often layered and repeated, with overlaid digital effects and vibrant colours, make the graphics pop and give them a fantastical element. His work is abundant and so is the information about each picture – an important part of sharing indigenous cultures.
If you’d like more information about Nerius and his work please contact him on the links below.