Events June 28, 2021

Healing Country with IndigeDesignLabs.

To celebrate Australia's national week of Australia’s First Peoples' culture and history, NAIDOC week 2021, a group of aspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creatives from IndigeDesignLabs in Cairns created a series of Procreate brushes honouring this year’s theme ‘Heal Country’.

Founded in 2020, IndigeDesignLabs is an experimental Indigenous creative learning lab introducing young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to digital design and the creative industries. IndigeDesignLabs use the confluence of art, design, technology and culture to help develop immersive storytelling in natural and man-made environments. The lab is led by Aboriginal designer Leigh Harris, who seeks to inspire the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to enter into the creative industries.

With over 30 years experience in melding Indigenous creative design and technology, Leigh sees the transfer of his skills and knowledge as an important part of the project, while maintaining the impact for good and the social venture capabilities of IndigeDesignLabs. ‘As a group we want to create meaningful and inspiring experiences and environments through the use of design and technology while sharing our culture in new ways.’ Leigh explains.

'We're creating the new generation of hybrid designers and creative specialists that will thrive in today's creative world that melds art, design and technology together. These young people are learning through real life projects and opportunities to share their stories with the world through new mediums.’

‘Procreate has been one of the major tools that we have used at IndigeDesignLabs. It’s one of the tools that the young people naturally gravitate towards when they are in the creative process.’

Each young person from the IndigeDesignLabs team has been involved with the creation of a series of unique brushes that illuminate this year's NAIDOC theme ‘Heal Country’.

‘We want Procreate users everywhere to embrace and celebrate with us the importance of Caring for Country and the environment through using these brushes in their own creative process’ says Leigh. 'Importantly the brushes have been created by an all Indigenous team and contain no significant cultural motifs. This means that mob and allies alike can use the brushes in their creations.’

Funds from the sale of these brushes go towards IndigeDesignLabs and the establishment of a Caring for Country program that young people will be able to access to ‘Heal Country’ and experience being on Country with Traditional Owners.

To support the work of IndigeDesignLabs and their young creatives, purchase their brush pack now, visit procre.at/healcountry. To find out more about their program visit their website or Instagram.

Tarquin Singleton — Mentor

Where are you from?

Cairns/Yarrabah

What does NAIDOC mean to you?

NAIDOC is a week to acknowledge, celebrate and a chance to educate non-indigenous people about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and achievements.

Healing country is very important for both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, a healthy country means healthy people. As a Ranger and Traditional Owner of my area, it’s a part of my job to show people the importance of Bulmba Mamingal (caring for country).

Tell us about your creative work. What kind of art/design do you love to make?

A combination of traditional Aboriginal art and modern/western art. Simply because of my heritages, being both European and Aboriginal. Yirrganydji country is located from Cairns to Port Douglas making us rainforest and saltwater people. Growing up in two world heritage areas – the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest – it is something to be proud of and this heavily influences my work.

How can art/design change the world?

By planting seeds of inspiration to motivate people for action.

What role does Procreate play in the work you’re doing?

I’ve been using Procreate for a while now and it helps with capturing an idea and sharing on different platforms. I personally use a digital sketchbook, and to play around with different colours and brushes without digging through my pencil cases – it’s a real time saver. Having the pencil keep up with my movements or creating a colour palette from a photo are few of the reasons I got the app. Another great advantage is that there is always something new to discover in the app.

What do you enjoy about IndigeDesignLabs?

It’s good being in a studio environment to bounce ideas off each other. Coming in as a mentor is good, because it keeps me learning new skills and being able to teach those skills is a rewarding experience.

Jamaylya Ballangarry-Kearins — Program Coordinator

Where are you from?

I’m a proud Djabuguy and Gumbangirr woman from Cairns, Far North Queensland.

What does NAIDOC mean to you?

NAIDOC week means to me that my people are still alive! It is the one week in Australia that we get to be unapologetically native to this country and proud of it.

As a child you knew in this week you’d have to hug and kiss every new family member you’d met (and you’ll meet hundreds that week), but that it would all be worth it on Friday when you and the cuzzys met up to raid all the QG stall holders for their goody bags. As an adult, NAIDOC week carries sadness, mourning, hurt, happiness, pride and self-reflection… like one big stew pot of emotions.

It lets the world know we’re still here even after 60,000 years. Even after disease, warfare, missions, genocide and systematic racism, my people are still here and we will continue to survive, dance, share stories and grow thanks to our ancestors and their ability to recognise that the world is ever-changing and growing, and we the people need to be the same.

What does the NAIDOC theme ‘Healing Country’ mean to you?

Healing country means to heal one's path home. We are all on journeys back to dreaming/heaven and in order to get there we need a clear path – metaphorically and literally. If our country is cluttered, our homes and lives messy, we can never truly be at peace.

I hope we will take a moment to assess the spaces around us, and work hard to heal them. Burn them with fire and encourage new growth from the inside out, so our country can be safe in our hands again.

Tell us about your creative work. What kind of design/art do you love to make?

I have courted with photography, film and design, but never committed to just one. I prefer to speed date my way through the arts, learning basic skills for animation, dark room photography, lino printing, painting and fashion illustration but never fully majoring in any one. I believe this is because the art I create is ever-changing, so I need to be able to move freely through mediums so I can find the right one to translate what I am trying to say.

How can art change the world?

Art tells us the stories we never thought to imagine. Art gives us the answers to questions we didn't think we needed answers to. Art is ever evolving – I believe that the world and art change together, hence listening to artists and encouraging us to listen to the world is so important for our future, especially as Indigenous Peoples. Art changes perspectives and thinking, and that can change the world.

What role does Procreate play in the work you’re doing?

Procreate is an amazing tool to take visions out of my head and onto a canvas. It helps me unlearn insecurities about the standards of a ‘good’ drawing or design that I taught myself and limit myself within.

Procreate has made me feel as though it is possible to translate a creative vision to canvas with the skills I have. I am only at the beginning of my learning with Procreate, and can’t wait to see what I will be able to create in the future after learning more and having fun just doodling in the app in my spare time.

What do you enjoy about IndigeDesignLabs?

IndigeDesignLabs inspires me to never stop learning and growing in my understanding of life, politics, art and design. As newly appointed Program Coordinator it has been amazing to come full circle and work alongside my long-term mentor and Uncle Leigh Harris in a program that I previously participated in and gained so much from as a creative.

I’m so grateful to be a part of this moment where we see Leigh's work funded to teach our youth the importance of creativity, self-sufficiency and community empowerment. I encourage all young Indigenous people in the Gimuy and surrounding areas who have an interest in design, art and media to reach out. We never want to stop growing and you may just have the skills we need or didn't know we needed until you say - whichway?

Jamahl Yami — Artist

Where are you from?

I am a Waanyi and Gangaliida man from the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Savannah’s and Rivers.

What does NAIDOC mean to you?

It’s a time to take pride in my Indigenous Culture and to celebrate Blak resilience and beauty in my country. The feeling I get from watching our dances and customs be celebrated instead of hidden is second to none. I use the week to reflect on ancestors and the country we’ve lived in for countless generations.

As our people are one with the land, healing country for me ultimately means healing ourselves. Our country evolved with us around it, and our customs and land management helped nature thrive and kept things balanced. To Heal Country is to get back to who we truly are, and the healing works both ways.

Tell us about your creative work. What kind of art/design do you love to make?

I have been an artist and creator my whole life and have used all kinds of media to create a story or message in my projects. I am currently making music and have a group called Water Streets, where I get to explore sonics and storytelling through this medium.

I love to make art that expands the mind and tells a story or evokes emotion. Drawing, painting, sculpting, using natural resources… anything. I am heavily influenced by the Aboriginal ProppaNOW artists movement and the concept that Indigenous art is not just Indigenous art because of the traditional styles of painting or creating art... Indigenous art is such because it was created by Indigenous people.

How can art/design change the world?

Good art can expand the mind, stretch the consciousness and make a person think differently to how they usually would. Art brings light to things and gives new perspectives to people.

What role does Procreate play in the work you’re doing?

Procreate is an amazing interface to use to bring life to my projects. The possibilities are endless with Procreate if the artist knows what needs to be made.

What do you enjoy about IndigeDesignLabs?

I love the sense of family within IndigeDesignLabs and the vision of the project. Being able to be around other young Indigenous artists is inspiring, and I get to learn a lot from all of the people involved.

Janice Ghee — Artist

Where are you from?

Meriam Mir (Murray Island) Torres Straits

What does NAIDOC mean to you?

Coming together to celebrate our unique cultures. It’s a week where we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be really proud of who we are, pay respect to ancestors and who we are as First Peoples of Australia.

This year's theme of ‘Healing Country’ is important, but it is not as simple as just taking care of our land, waterways and sacred sites. It’s also about healing the past, and healing Australia as a nation together and people respecting our culture and our connection to this land.

Tell us about your creative work. What kind of art/design do you love to make?

I love to make art on various topics and thoughts I have, but leave it up to the interpretation of the audience to compare with my views. All of my pieces include elements from a cultural perspective and relate back to the environment. One of the most important stories that I want to tell through my art and design is the impact that global warming is having on my homelands in the Torres Straits. It’s important to tell these stories, and tell them in unique and impactful ways.

How can art/design change the world?

A simple photograph, sketch or painting can change the world because it contains many stories/meanings which can be from the past, present or future. Also whether it is culture (traditional), environmental or political.

What role does Procreate play in the work you’re doing?

I am pretty new to Procreate, I have only been using it for about a year now. But since discovering it at IndigeDesignLabs, it plays an important part in creating my art and design works now. It’s really important for me that I move from using a sketchpad to using technology to promote art, rather than just a sketch pad. To do old things in new ways.

What do you enjoy about IndigeDesignLabs?

IndigeDesignLabs gives me the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the creative industries. It’s awesome to learn how we can tell our stories in new ways, combining new techniques, and melding design, art and technology together.

It’s very different from simply painting on a canvas or drawing on a sketchpad, and of course I love meeting and interacting with people that have the same passion for creativity.

Kayden Bosun — Artist

Where are you from?

Moa Island (Kubin) and Fly River tribe (PNG)

What does NAIDOC mean to you?

It’s a significant week that respects and celebrates our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, our elders and cultures from before us, as well as our ties to the land and sea throughout the country.

Reconnecting and preserving cultural roots, messages and symbols that tell stories of the past of our homes and lands and recent significant impacts to them. And how important it is that we reconnect with Country to ensure the protection of our land, waters and sacred sites.

Tell us about your creative work. What kind of art/design do you love to make?

I like to leave it up to the audience's interpretation of how they view my art compared to my views. I love to make art pieces on various topics and thoughts I have, but most of my works are about society and how we have an effect on the environments around us in everything that we do as humans.

How can art/design change the world?

Art can tell a story or deliver a message, sometimes both. It's the oldest form of expressing and recording thoughts and events. Any art piece can communicate an idea, message and thought to anyone. With art and design we can change the world by influencing others through the stories that we tell.

What role does Procreate play in the work you’re doing?

Procreate is an awesome tool that is helping our work of portraying, preserving and showing our stories and thoughts in new ways. It’s a simple tool that allows us to tell our stories through digital art and design. I love how we can use Procreate to create a piece of art and build a simple animation of our artwork, that is just one of the things that I love about Procreate. It’s simple too. I hope that one day I will be able to work in the animation industry.

What do you enjoy about IndigeDesignLabs?

What I enjoy about IndigeDesignLabs is that it helps me pursue my passion in design and art. And it’s a starting step towards getting my foot in the door in the creative industries, as well as contributing to the community in ways I didn't think were possible.

Nathaniel Murray — Artist

Where are you from?

Gimuy Walubara Yidinji

What does NAIDOC mean to you?

NAIDOC week is an important event for us. We can celebrate our culture and importantly share it with other people that come along to NAIDOC week activities. It's also really great because the whole community meets at events and sometimes you see people and elders that you have not seen for a while.

This year's theme ‘Heal Country’ is so important to every Aboriginal person throughout the Country. Country is our connection, it’s our heart that we need to take care of and make sure that others understand how important it is. For me it's about protecting and nurturing the knowledge that our land and waters keep, and those sites that are so important to use as Aboriginal people.

Tell us about your creative work. What kind of art/design do you love to make?

I love to perform, and I love sharing my creative thoughts and ideas through dance and as a DJ at events around Cairns. These have been my passions since I was young, but that's not all that I do creatively. Sharing my stories through simple contemporary design and illustration is important. I like to create images that tell stories of my life, but are related back to my culture and my family.

How can art/design change the world?

Art and design changes the world everyday. It allows a voice for us, particularly because I am hearing impaired it allows me to tell my stories through visually compelling art that the viewer can question and connect to. Art and design are powerful tools and I love when I can mix these up with dance and music. You can make stories really come to life using all of these, I can't wait till we start combining these at IndigeDesignLabs.

What role does Procreate play in the work you’re doing?

Procreate is such an awesome tool. I had already used Procreate before I came to IndigeDesignLabs, so it was something that I was familiar with. The things that you can do with Procreate are endless and it allows more creativity because it allows this freedom.

What do you enjoy about IndigeDesignLabs?

I love coming to IndigeDesignLabs every week, it gives me a creative outlet to share my designs and illustrations with others and learn more about creating work digitally. It’s a little bit dangerous, because they have all the tools that I love so much like iPads and a VR Headset which I can’t get enough of. I love creating in virtual reality. It's another great tool, like Procreate, to unleash your creativity in new ways. I can't wait for more projects and opportunities that we have at IndigeDesignLabs.

Raymond Clarke — Artist

Where are you from?

Gimuy Walubara Yidinji

What does NAIDOC mean to you?

NAIDOC is a week that we can celebrate being who we are, and allows us to showcase our culture and share it with others.

Tell us about your creative work. What kind of art/design do you love to make?

I am more of a musician than a visual artist or designer, but love that I have the ability to work with traditional mediums in visual arts. My work is mostly about words that hold strong meaning to my Aboriginal heritage.

How can art/design change the world?

Art helps people to show their emotions and thoughts, as some find it hard to speak their thoughts and emotions. People can allow art to speak for themselves.

What role does Procreate play in the work you’re doing?

I was only introduced to Procreate when I joined IndigeDesignLabs and I can’t get enough of it. It just allows so much freedom when I am in my creative mode. It allows me to create artworks in half the time it would normally take me.

What do you enjoy about IndigeDesignLabs?

IndigeDesignLabs allows me to traverse between traditional art principles and digital design technology, and experiment with different design techniques and technologies to tell stories through my art and design.

We are not creating on canvas but are doing things new, mixing technology, design, art and culture. It’s really important as young people that we move and share our stories using today's ways but respecting our past.

Saroma Gesa — Artist

Where are you from?

Mer Island (Murray Island) Torres Straits

What does NAIDOC mean to you?

NAIDOC is a special time for us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we can celebrate together and show the rest of Australia our culture and our pride for who we are.

This year's theme ‘Healing Country’ is really important because we need to make people understand the importance of land and our special cultural sites and that we need to take care of them for our future generations. This is not just for us, taking care of our environment and our cultural sites is important to all of us.

Tell us about your creative work. What kind of art/design do you love to make?

I am new to design and art, and only starting learning about my own creativity. That's why I am here at IndigeDesignLabs, so that I can work more on my creativity and learn new techniques. I like to create art and designs that are related to my culture and things in my life, which can share my story and of my people's culture.

How can art/design change the world?

Art and design is all around us and can change the minds of people to help them understand things that sometimes are hard to explain, or that they don’t want to understand. Through telling a story visually, you can invite someone into a shared experience where you can educate them through a simple visual description. Then it’s up to them.

What role does Procreate play in the work you’re doing?

I have only been using Procreate for a very short time compared to everyone else – I don’t have an iPad at home – but when I come to IndigeDesignLabs I simply jump on the iPad, open Procreate and start creating. It’s so deadly to use an app that is so simple to use and I'm learning more and more about what you can do with it as we go along. It’s even more awesome when I learnt that it's Australian too – now that's deadly!

What do you enjoy about IndigeDesignLabs?

My friend Janice convinced me to come and check out IndigeDesignLabs, and I love everything that we have been doing and experimenting with each week. It's awesome seeing things that we create in the real world and the appreciation that everyone is having for what we create. The way we interact with each other and talk about projects, design and technology has really opened my eyes to the endless career pathways in the creative industries.

Sheree Jacobs — Mentor

Where are you from?

I am a Torres Strait Islander who grew up in Cairns. My family are from Erub, an Eastern Island in the Torres Strait.

What does NAIDOC mean to you?

NAIDOC is a time to reflect and celebrate our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. It's an opportunity to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, our histories, and what it means for First Nations people today.

Tell us about your creative work. What kind of art/design do you love to make?

When I am not designing for work, which is mostly web and publication based, I love drawing and doing creative work which for me is more personal. My style does change and encompasses both Western and Torres Strait influences. Procreate is a platform that has allowed me to start and progress more of my own work.

How can art/design change the world?

Art and design can tell stories in ways that can be understood universally. Sometimes words are not enough. Art and design is something that can reach and move people, communicate ideas and thoughts in new ways.

What role does Procreate play in the work you’re doing?

Procreate is a tool that can merge art and design from concepts through to finished artwork. I’m amazed at its capabilities, and it has become one of the main tools for any design project.

What do you enjoy about IndigeDesignLabs?

I enjoy supporting the next generation of digital designers and artists. Compared with my everyday work, IndigeDesignLabs allows me to collaborate and share ideas with our program’s mentors and younger people. I hope to mentor young people in both design and communications.