Our Week 5 Art Connect Retreat at the Dutton Bay Woolshed was a rewarding and thought-provoking experience. The students funded the trip themselves as a result of their award-winning collaborative artwork “Vortex” being used by the Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Hub in Adelaide.

During the Art Connect Retreat, we met Elder and celebrated artist Sandra Saunders at her studio in Wangary. Sandra Saunders is a Ngarrindjeri artist and activist. She played a major role in the protesting over the Hindmarsh Island Bridge controversy. She has exhibited her art widely and works as a sculptor and painter using mixed media. Sandra has been a previous Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement Director and had a successful career assisting Aboriginal people in the public service of South Australia.

We met and connected through discussion with the Australian archaeologist and anthropologist Scott Cane, at his home near Mena. The conversations flowed easily and a lovely morning tea was devoured. Scott has lived for long periods of time with the desert people of Australia, including some of the last hunter-gatherers. He is the author of Pila Nguru: The Spinifex People, appeared in the 2013 ABC TV documentary First Footprints, and authored the accompanying book of the same title.

Jacqui Giles and Laska the dog were our hosts at the Dutton Bay Woolshed. Jacqui shared the history of the buildings in the Woolshed Museum with honesty and passion. Jacqui created a beautiful atmosphere (complete with candles) for our evening meal (so yummy) in the Woolshed Café and Gallery. We might even hold an exhibition there one day!

Believe it or not, we had time to create art and some families may see these when the holidays begin. We planned some new artworks and discussed ideas for the future based on the time we spent with Sandra, Scott and Jacqui.

The weather was not as kind as we would have liked, but the hostel was cosy and there were many songs sung and delicious food eaten.

~ Ms Wanda Jarvis (Aboriginal Art teacher)

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