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Byron Shire
January 26, 2022

Students step behind the lens with acclaimed Indigenous photographer

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Indigenous contemporary artist Michael Cook working with high school students at Tweed Regional Gallery.
Indigenous contemporary artist Michael Cook working with high school students at Tweed Regional Gallery.

A group of Tweed art students recently enjoyed special insight into the creativity of award-winning Indigenous artist Michael Cook, during a ‘student enrichment day’ at Tweed Regional Gallery.

Cook shared his knowledge and experiences with 19 enthusiastic students, selected from five high schools by their visual arts teachers.

The students received a guided tour of the gallery’s current exhibition Resolution: new Indigenous photomedia, which is on loan from the National Gallery of Australia and includes artworks by 19 Indigenous artists, highlighting a variety of photographic and thematic approaches.

Cook then introduced his new exhibition, Mother, a powerful series of 13 photographs reflecting on the Stolen Generation and the personal story of the artist’s adoption at birth.

Tweed Regional Gallery’s education and audience development officer, Jodi Ferrari, said, ‘Michael jumped straight into the technicalities of his work – from concept development work to shooting multiple layers and piecing them together to create the sequence of images to his high standards.

‘It became very apparent to the students that Michael does not simply take photographs – he creates images.

‘Cook often works on large-scale projects involving teams of people and he shared some amazing stories about how he has made things happen in his career.

‘It was really inspiring for the students, opening their eyes to the possibilities of collaboration and simply asking for what they needed for their art making.’

The workshop then got hands-on, as the students were set a task to plan a project from start to finish.

Year 10 Murwillumbah High School student Shahnti Leela said the artist ‘helped us understand his ideas behind making the photos.’

‘He explained how he came up with his ideas, and how he researched and made the images gave me a wider perspective on art and photography,’ she said.

Year 12 student Jordan Morris-Grant, also from Murwillumbah High, said the presentation and workshop were ‘interesting and useful; both in relation to our HSC studies and my concept and art ideas for my HSC body of work.’

Mother continues at Tweed Regional Gallery until 11 December 2016, with the generous support of Hong Kong art collectors Alan Conder and Alan Pigott.

 


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