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Koori youths show off artistic side

Koori youths have been presented with hooded jumpers they designed during a Koorie Heritage Trust and Shepparton Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE project.

ESTELLE GRIEPINK June 26, 2014 3:06am

Riley Williams, Isaac Handy, Tristan Harrison-Drake and Christopher Bodsworth have emblazoned the clothes they are wearing with Indigenous imagery they designed.


A group of Koori youths have taken the saying ‘‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’’ to a new level by designing a range of hooded jumpers emblazoned with Indigenous imagery.

The Kooriez in da Hood community arts project engages young, ‘‘at risk’’ Koori people by helping them design and screen-print their own culturally-infused ‘‘hoodies’’.

It is run by the Melbourne-based Koorie Heritage Trust, which worked with Shepparton’s Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE to bring the project to local youths.

Koorie Heritage Trust training co-ordinator David Winslade said he was delighted with the participants and their creations.

They worked for four weeks to produce the hoodies and were presented with the final product at a ceremony at the TAFE yesterday.

‘‘Hoodies are seen so much in traditional Western society as a symbol of street crime and people hiding their identity,’’ he said.

 

‘‘We’ve made them a positive cultural statement for Kooris to project the image of how they see themselves, and they’ve flourished in exploring their designs and expressing themselves.’’

Mr Winslade said the project gave young people the opportunity to work with professional artists and study a Certificate III in arts administration.

‘‘We’ve had a really high percentage of students who have re-engaged with education or retained their engagement with education, and a pleasing increase in people taking on mainstream employment opportunities because of the confidence they’ve built,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve also had a number of students commit themselves to careers in the arts.’’

Riley Williams said he was excited to wear his new hoodie.

The Notre Dame College student’s jumper features the totem of the Taungurung people and has ‘‘Taungurung’’ splashed across the back.

‘‘It’s about showing off my culture and showing that I’m proud of it,’’ Riley, 15, said.

‘‘I’ll be wearing it a lot.’’

Riley said he would encourage other young Kooris to get involved in the project.

‘‘It’s something different and it’s been a good experience,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve made some new friends and learned some new art skills.’’

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