Acknowledgement of Country mural
As part of the Class 6 student’s final year at Mumbulla School for Rudolf Steiner Education the class traditionally give a gift to the school that will remain after they move to high school. In 2021 the Class 6 students chose to create an artistic representation of an Acknowledgement of Country; acknowledging the unceded Aboriginal lands on which they live, learn, play and work.
Within this cohort of students there were two Djiringanj children of the Yuin Nation and another First Nations child whose grandmother was part of the stolen generations and came from Kakadu.
Developing this artwork to gift to the school happened progressively throughout the school year but the foundation was the children writing a verse that embodied what connecting and caring for country meant to them.
The ground beneath us,
The sky above us,
The country around us
The water that flows through us
Is and always will be the heart of the Yuin lands.
We respect and acknowledge that the Djiringanj people are caring for our home.
When you enter Yuin Country stop!
Take in the sights. Every river and hill has been here for many generations.
Our elders and their elders before them, have been caring for the land on which we stand. They would want us to take care for it and pride in it for future generations. So we ask that you respect the Djiringanj people, their beliefs, cultures and languages And you respect the land they’ve worked so hard to protect.
These verses became the inspiration for the mural. The whole school felt honoured to have Natalie Bateman join the project and help turn the children’s words into a meaningful and beautiful mural. Nat’s presence and her willingness to share her culture, knowledge and skills served to strengthen the creativity, wisdom and purpose of the project.
Under Nat’s guidance the class developed the palette and composition for the artwork. The palette came directly from the colours the students saw in the land around them, distilled through photographs into a colour scheme.
Nat led workshops with small groups of children over the course of the three days that the mural was painted. The girls painted Gulaga Mountain and the boys painted Mumbulla Mountain, with water flowing through the artwork as it flows through life.
Nat not only helped the children create a beautiful mural she provided a circle of calm and intense creativity in a busy school week.
Mumbulla School cannot thank Nat enough for sharing her culture, her wisdom and her passion for painting, with the Class 6 children of Mumbulla School and with the community who pass through our Hall and gaze on this very special artistic Acknowledgement of Country.
Thank you, Class 6 2021 and thank you Nat Bateman.
Nat belongs to one of the largest Aboriginal families on the south coast, NSW. Her family are sea dwellers whose life revolves around the ocean, hunting and gathering seafood. Life started for Nat growing up at Maroubra Beach and La Perouse. Then later Nambucca Heads, home of her extended Gumbaynggirr family. Living at Lennox Head in her early 20’s she discovered painting, she is self-taught. She swapped cooking in restaurants for paintbrushes.
Her family upbringing and cultural connection has influenced the style and subjects of her artworks. Nat’s website: https://natsart.com.au/
Written by Vanessa Spinelli, parent and member of Mumbulla School’s Reconciliation Action Plan Group (RAP)