Kate graduated from KRB in 1981 and then moved to Canberra to study Sculpture at ANU. Upon completion of her degree, Kate worked at the National Art Gallery and after several career changes moved to the TAFE education sector. Kate has taught community work and visual arts in a wide range of disciplines. Her roles have included student support advising roles, cultural diversity coordinator for migrants and refugees, disability advisor and youth advisor. Kate has also taken on educational leadership responsibilities as a teacher trainer, teaching TAFE educators and school teachers.
In her own words, Kate tells us of her role in Kaltjiti. These lands are located on the edge of the Great Victorian Desert, in the remote north-western corner of South Australia (the tri- border region) and cover an area the size of Iceland.
“My job involves identifying resources and opportunities for learning and labour and working with the community, individuals and service providers to develop courses that address the needs and interests of people here in Kaltjiti. I feel very privileged to be here to help these friendly people with all their traditional wisdom about caring for the land and their rich culture, along with, sadly, the trauma of dispossession that has left many so vulnerable and marginalised. There are some serious issues but also many strengths, hopes and much goodwill within this extremely impoverished community.
Some of the community development/ educational projects I have been involved in since my arrival include
Reconciliation Book Fairs – I have begun to organise book fairs to distribute boxes of books ordered from the ILF (Indigenous Literacy Fund). The fairs are accompanied by activities such as marbling (painting), music and bbq’s. The books include indigenous titles in language for adults and beautiful childrens’ books illustrated by local artists
Marbling on paper and painting on fabric bags – The marbling painting activity has been a huge success. People can print a saying or scripture, recipe or poem on either paper or cloth. This is a simple, low-cost, high-fun engagement activity. Marbling builds self-esteem and competence and is a forum to talk about all kinds of things from feelings and life’s difficulties enabling people to explore fresh perspectives or just enjoy a moment of peace interfacing with hands and materials, colour and form.
Cemetery – The cemetery needs attention. Tending graves is important. There are graves that need stones and the whole cemetery needs to be mapped. People need help casting plaques and I have been invited by the local CDP Office to assist with this. My sculpting skills may yet re- emerge!
Production of Art and Photo books – The community would like me to produce photo books and illustrated art books to tell their traditional and current stories in language and translate their own work into English and share these stories widely with all age groups in mind.
Literacy and Numeracy – I teach literacy and numeracy to local workers and job seekers. These include Anangu who work for the municipal council or as indigenous rangers. We are also reaching out to other service providers such as the community development providers, aged care providers, youth services along with Anangu educators at the school to determine what services we can provide.
I hope I can do our KRB heritage of social responsibility proud and practice our values of using our education to support those in need effectively. The distances and space, the uninhabited landscape cared for by Anangu centuries before colonisation and dispossession is astonishingly beautiful. It appears unspoilt although sadly the impact of colonisation and western agricultural, mining and industrial processes has been huge, affecting the Anangu people immensely. Big skies and big hearts. What a place! Listen and learn. That’s what I am trying to do, and I hope I can help the people here in some small way.
I am enjoying meeting some very successful artists who are part of the western desert artistic community practice which includes dot painting (this unique international art movement originates from this region) and Tjanpi Weavers who produce their work in native grasses and mixed media. I sense a real possibility that art and literacy can be part of the strategy to help these people heal.”