I am me & you are you and that’s OK!
On 23rd May artist Kim Walmsley will travel to Paris as part of a Toowoomba delegation who are presenting their city as a Model City of Peace and Harmony at the Vesak Conference at UNESCO. Kim took time out from preparing her UNESCO presentation about ‘Community’ to reflect on her practice for our artist blog.
I am me & you are you and that’s OK!
by Kim Walmsley
I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we all stand Pamanyungun – Australia. A big shout Out! to my ancestors for keeping our spirits alive in keeping the flames of knowledge burning over the thousands of years of your existence, through success and adversity you have passed down stories of resilience that will live for another 40,000 years.
We come here for a reason. By God we come to seek understanding and truth, experience love, adventure, compassion, kindness & contribute to the growth of the planet.
What motivated all our ancestors to seek beyond the horizon. Weather we are running for our lives or chasing a dream to become a builder or doctor our nature is to move, as movement is life.
Mixing myth with physical proof, word of mouth passed down from generation to generation over thousands of years. How could they survive the storytelling between reality and myth? We will never know the complete truth but we can believe in certain things that connect with us as a feeling in that moment. It’s like the saying goes ‘Go with your heart’. Although, we are Aboriginal people of this land from different nations, tribes or groups we are one culture. And it is our duty to support each other and reconnect our spirits in solidarity and unity. Take a moment to take your shoes off, wriggle your toes in the earth, the grass, smell, feel the air & listen to the whispers in the wind…Start taking notice of your surrounds is my first suggestion.
I started painting at the age of 17. This has been on and off as life and mainstream realities take over the natural forces of necessity to connection to country, to identity. I embraced art full time 17 years ago & having moved to Toowoomba Queensland I embraced a new path. I now feel I am more at peace with my identity because of my acceptance of where I really come from and where I am heading. My art is my meditation a gift from my ancestors that support me in telling stories and enabling others to be themselves and to not be affected by the modern day dilution of social madness and materialism. I understand the reality that we are here in the now and that working on a balance is working with community & people on an individual level, helping others identify and be courageous and to gain belief in themselves again. As kindness, compassion and love are the only tools we as humans should need apart from food water and sunlight. If only we knew this when we started out here.
As artists we are well known for being all over the place, highly creative, innovative, crazy, irrational and unpractical. Of course, there are the organised bunch who have amazing business skills and abilities in prioritising and time management. I am finally approaching that phase in my life. Gosh, who wouldn’t want to be an artist? It’s so cool to be individual to be able to not feel judged or misinterpreted because at the end of the day what others think of us is none of our business. This in itself is the boundary that makes us so unique. And a saying that helped me dis-connect from others negativity and attempted intrusion or invasion of my diversity and the inner bohemian child.
Over the years I have worked with numerous people of all walks of life. School children primary and secondary, Adults seeking to find themselves and their purpose to just plane need to create. I once heard there is no wrong or right in art. I feel that is so true as it is an individual choice to like or create something unique, something meaningful to their experiences, emotions or thoughts. It’s a tool that I encourage others to embrace in order to release their negativity and allow positivity back into theirs lives. It’s our scribe like writing a poem of a blog.
I cannot talk of just one community project as they are all to their own and too many. I can talk of my first contact with the idea that this was my purpose. I worked at a school in Toowoomba. I was completing a Certificate III in Network Administration. Weird for me but I loved it and I was good at it. Maybe not now though as IT and I don’t get along at the best of times and in those moments of frustration I appreciate the OFF switch, wait for ten seconds before turning ON. If only we could reboot and refresh when life chucks us a curb ball. So, it was NAIDOC week and I was asked to talk to the kids about Aboriginal people. I myself was a little ignorant being adopted and even though I had the knowledge I lacked the confidence to believe as being a coconut taunted me. (Black on the outside, white on the inside). So…. Nevertheless, I bit the bullet and took a deep breath and ended up talking to the little grade 3-4ers and we designed and I painted two paintings that now reside at the school. I have learnt that even though I was not raised by my natural family. I am still Aboriginal and no one can take that from me. My skin is dark and spirit strong. Since then I have never looked back. I truly loved talking to the kids and seeing their little faces light up, asking me questions, like, if I lived in the bush. LOL…to if I had eaten Kangaroo to which at that time in my life I hadn’t.
So in those moments I believed that these little faces staring at me were the voices of my ancestors and elders coming through to encourage me to learn more and teach others not just about my culture but to be themselves and to appreciate Cultures and all human beings. I may be Indigenous, adopted & reconnected but my way of teaching is for everyone.
I have and still have many mentor’s mostly strong Indigenous women that have had great influence on me. Academics, Elders, spiritualists, friends and family. Never telling me how it should be done. A good yarn goes a long way. My adopted mother is responsible for the love I feel inside for all people. She is a true guiding light one at which defines my inner soul. My natural mother is a part of my spirit as my blood is hers. I no longer feel sad for the years lost but for the gift of having time with her when I can.
I am currently working on several ideas and possibilities that are in their early stages. I feel I am the strongest I have been for years and have been forewarned from others and that of my memory of the past that it eventually runs out. We all get burnt out, have to reboot on a beach somewhere drinking a Margarita. Until then I am here and believe that I have more courage and stability than I have ever had. Maintaining and sustaining will be difficult and I know I can do it because I am a creative person, art is my meditation and it’s available to me 24/7.
The U shape is how I promote the most important person in your life…U. This symbol happens to be the shape used by the ancestors to display a person sitting. Each colour has a meaning for me. One that I speak with people about. Values that we gain and earn throughout our life’s degree.