Taungurung woman shares culture through art

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Samantha Trist likes to make and create. Born in Box Hill Hospital, brought up in Bulleen and now living on the Mornington Peninsula, this proud Taungurung women of the Warring Illum Bulok clan who cherished holidays with her Indigenous grandmother Elsie in Yea as a kid, loves to express herself through art made from the heart. She explains: “It’s about having ‘me’ time, really. I’ve got two children, one with special needs, and I work full-time, but somehow I make time to do it. You should see my kitchen table — there’s reeds, feathers, salt and pepper shakers and my husband’s newspaper and Rose’s speech exercises all over it. It’s chaos, but somehow things are produced. I always loved doing art at school and did it as an elective at university. 

“I became a member of Baluk Arts about three years ago and have entered pieces in a couple of exhibitions with them. I’m currently working on five pieces, which will be part of an international touring exhibition. Baluk Arts asked me to be a part of it because of its subject matter. It’s a moth exhibition and the Taungurung people have a strong affiliation with the bogong moth. I love drawing them. As soon as I found out about the exhibition I was so excited. They are drawn in black and white and of course I added my own personal touch — the burning part of the design. I love to burn. It’s a technique I enjoy using.” 

Samantha is one busy artist and loves to share her Indigenous culture. She draws, shows people how to make reed necklaces and emu feather skirts, and teaches Indigenous dance to young girls in Somerville and is busy rehearsing for Tanderrum, which will be performed at the opening of the Melbourne International Arts Festival on Wednesday, October 2. Five Indigenous clans of the Eastern Kulin Nation, including the Boonwurrung, Wurundjeri, Taungurung, Wadawarung and Dja Dja Wurung, will be coming together in celebration of culture and Country. 

She continues: “Every artistic venture is about sharing my Indigenous culture. I’ve been involved in the making of three possum cloaks for Taungurung — one for a funeral, a woman’s cloak and one for the last Commonwealth Games. I used the burning on possum skin technique and painting with ochre. I also love working with bark and wood, anything that represents my connection to Country.”

And connected to Country, culture and Indigenous spirit this innovative artist is. See her work at Baluk Arts and at the McCrae Homestead, where she is an Indigenous educator as part of the Cross Cultural Heritage Experience. Enjoy.

The Moth Migration Project is at Oak Hill Gallery in Mornington.

LIZ ROGERS

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