Natalie Bateman: Djiraali Muriyira
Official exhibition opening: 6pm, Friday 16 June, 2023
Suite of Public Programs: 10:30am – 2:30pm, Saturday 8 July, 2023
Exhibition showing until Saturday 12 August, 2023
Artist Natalie Bateman in conversation:
Artist’s Exhibition Statement:
Going on a field trip to Eden with the ANU SOAD Balawan Elective group back in 2016, and listening to Naturalist John Blay give a talk about Davidson’s Whaling Station, had me thinking about my great grandfather Edward ‘Teddie’ Stewart and our mob. So, I went home and asked our Uncles about Grandfather working for the whaling station. Around from Twofold Bay is where our tribes had the last whale ceremony.
All this information is gathered from family and hearing John speak. I just felt this great sense of loss and sadness for all those whales that were slaughtered there at Twofold Bay. It wasn’t that long ago our people were doing whale ceremony there in Eden. Our people only took what was needed. Everything was in balance. I thought of how my mob felt inside knowing they had to work to survive, working killing all those whales for money.
Muriyira is whale in our dhurga language djiraali is blood. These triangles represent our Yuin Nations DNA, how our ancestors once roamed freely on our homelands. These triangles all connect, they connect to the hills, mountains, river mouths estuaries, rivers and ocean. These triangles are our parents our children. They represent all living things growing and living on this land. The triangles are they day and night, stars and the universe. This is my songline I paint from my Yuin ancestry.
About the artist
‘Walawaani nyayaga Natalie Bateman Walbanja-Yuin’
I was born in Sydney 1972 and lived there with my parents at Maroubra Beach / La Perouse. My family are a large aboriginal family from the Far South Coast, NSW. My family are the Ella’s & Stewart’s. We are sea dwellers and our life revolves around the ocean hunting and gathering seafood. Being brought up by the sea and our family way of life has been the biggest influence on the subjects I paint.
I am a self-taught artist. I started dabbling with acrylic paints thirty years ago whilst living on the north coast town of Lennox Head. And I was painting about my family and the sea because I was missing them so much. This was the start of the ‘Calling.’ The ancestors and my homelands in Yuin country were calling me back. When I look at the paintings I’ve done, most have been about fish and sea creatures; this feels so natural for me. Our family would go back to camp on our homelands every year to nourish and energise our souls. We spent most of our days fishing diving surfing and playing a lot of sports.
No one in my Aboriginal family painted. I got this talent from my Dads side; his father was an painter and sign writer. I get ideas every day. Being in nature inspires me; listening to my elders telling stories; spending time with my loved ones; being a part of our family kinship respecting our cultural ways. All this beauty goes into my paintings. I love abstract painting and playing around with colour, using shapes & patterns; anything like this. And I just love seeing my art uplift people’s spirit.