The Guardians

Sandra Hill

Balingup, Australia

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Artist's Description

120cm wide x 100cm high
Acrylic on Plywood panel

The central serpent like image is symbolic of the Waugul, the sacred snake of the Aboriginal people of Australia. The thirteen Nyungar clans or language groups are represented by the ‘campfire’ circles, which represent home and hearth.
The 14 language groups from the South-West of Western Australia are Nganda, Amangu, Yued, Ballardong, Whadjug, Bindjareb, Wilmen, Nyaginyagi, Wudjari, Goreng, Minang, Ganeang, Bibbulmun & Wardandi.

All thirteen clans are forever connected and are traditionally and culturally integrated into a ‘song-line’ or ‘dreaming’ track that continues to evolve over time whilst maintaining their strong connections with one another. One of the most significant attributes of Nyoongar culture is our strong and enduring social and kinship bond. Over recent history our relationships with one another have been placed under great duress however, even in these contemporary times we continue to value our relationships with one another more than anything else in this material world.

Pillars surrounding the coiled shape that symbolises our nation represent the Elders or the ‘Guardians’. They look inward and stand guard, sometimes in isolation, watching over their people, their culture and their traditions. They are responsible for safeguarding cultural knowledge and traditions, they represent us, protect us, teach us, and speak on behalf of us, they help to maintain our presence in the wider non-Indigenous community and enable us to have a voice when no one is listening. They are the cultural sentinels of the past, the present and the future and this painting is a tribute to those men and women Elders who have given so much to our people with immeasurable grace, dignity and humility.

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