By Senior Art Director - Sarah Coleman

Nestled on the far South Coast of Australia lies the picturesque town of Narooma, a hidden gem surrounded by crystal clear waters and majestic mountain ranges. It is here that I had the privilege of volunteering with local artist Cheryl Davison (Overton), a Walbunja and Ngarigo woman, whose art intricately weaves together essential creation narratives and familial stories from the region.

Cheryl's art is not just a means of creative expression; it's a living testament to the cultural heritage passed down through generations. She preserves and shares the rich stories and knowledge of her culture. "To now have the shop is a really lovely way to connect with people from everywhere all over the world," Cheryl shared. "It's a way to share the stories and knowledge that I have of my culture. It's not just a business for me to sell art; it's a way to share my story and my place with everyone."

My journey with Cheryl began through the Community First Development (CFD) organisation, an entity dedicated to self-determination in First Nations communities across Australia. Driven by the vision of a better world for all First Nations people, the organisation creates partnerships with communities, allowing them to lead projects that are crucial to their development. Thanks to Ruth, a CFD officer, she went beyond her role, showing me around some of the most beautiful swimming spots, sharing meals, stories, and laughter – truly a wonderful person to get to know.

As a volunteer, my role extended beyond traditional expectations. I had the privilege of working closely with Cheryl, setting up her website, social media, creating a captivating look book, a postcard, and a certificate of authenticity for her artworks. However, the true beauty of this experience went beyond the technical tasks – it was the opportunity to connect with Cheryl on a personal level, delving into her community, her art, and building a strong friendship.

Narooma and its surrounding areas, including Tilba, provided a breathtaking backdrop to our collaborative efforts. The crystal clear waters and mountain ranges served as constant reminders of the beauty that surrounded us, inspiring creativity and fostering a sense of connection to the land.

I am immensely grateful to Now We Collide, my workplace, for their unwavering support throughout this volunteering journey. Their encouragement and flexibility allowed me to take time away from work and utilise my creative skills to make a meaningful impact on Cheryl's artistic endeavours.

This experience has been a testament to the power of collaboration, cultural preservation, and the unexpected ways in which one can contribute. It's proof that by coming together, listening, and working with communities, we can create a world that recognises, respects, and values the equality of all cultures.

My volunteering journey with Cheryl Davison, complemented by the warmth of Ruth and the support of Now We Collide, has left an indelible mark, emphasising the significance of building connections and celebrating the vibrant tapestry that defines our cultural heritage.

The Gallery website 'Garraywaa Gallery' - is live and will have an online shop to purchase her limited prints alternatively drop into the gallery for a yarn at 42 Princess Highway Narooma.

Follow on Instagram: @garraywaagallery /  @communityfirstdevelopment / @cheryl_davison_artist

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