The Art Collaboration finalist artworks included in this year’s Schools Reconciliation Challenge exhibition, showcase students’ visions for reconciliation in Australia. By engaging with the 2022 theme ‘From River to Sea: Our Island Home’, schools and students explored and celebrated the knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their relationships with water.

Top image credit: 'Earth's Blood' © Damali Dennis, Houwraa Assaf and Fatimah Saleh. Chullora Public School.

'Earth's Blood' by Chullora Public School, Schools Reconciliation Challenge 2022, Art Collaborations finalist

Title: Earth's Blood
Artists: Damali Dennis, Houwraa Assaf and Fatimah Saleh
School: Chullora Public School
Category: Art Collaborations finalist

Artist statement: Water flows from the skies to the mountain tops, to the rivers, across the land to the oceans. Water is the Earth's blood and it nourishes and supports all life. In our artwork we used several colours to represent the diversity of landscapes and peoples. There are differences from place to place and from group to group but we all need clean water and a healthy environment to live well. Nothing would survive without water and we need to work together to take care of the environment for the future.

Reconciliation means:
Reconciliation means saying sorry for mistakes. It means working together to take care of each other and of the environment. It means living in peace and safety and respecting each other.

'Rivers and Tides' by Aquinas Catholic College, Menai, Schools Reconciliation Challenge 2022, Art Collaborations finalist

Title: Rivers and Tides
Artists: Adyrelle Dsouza, Luke O'Grady, Ewan Hawthorne and Arabella Harper
School: Aquinas Catholic College, Menai
Category: Art Collaborations finalist

Artist statement: Our artwork 'Rivers and Tides' pays tribute to how rainfall, tides and river levels has been monitored by First Nations peoples. Through this monitoring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can determine the impacts on flora, fauna and other natural resources so all can live in harmony and peace. Freshwater and saltwater is represented in our artwork as the central flow to demonstrate the connection to water and First Nation Peoples identity and spirituality. The heart flows the stream of water to the river to show deep connection to Country. The sky represents the Dreaming and the central figure connects all water sources together.

Reconciliation means:
Reconciliation means acceptance, courage and unity amongst all people in Australia.

'What Lies Beneath Dooragan' by St Joseph's Primary School, Schools Reconciliation Challenge 2022, Art Collaborations finalist

Title: What Lies Beneath Dooragan
Artists: Yindii-Lee White, Dekyrah Everson, Ilukah White, Logan Daniels, Hardy Fletcher, Ebony Kemp, Riley Knight, Evander White, Seth Young, Xarli Kemp, Violet Miller and Zahra Parker.
School: St Joseph's Primary School
Category: Art Collaborations finalist

Artist statement: At St Joseph’s Laurieton we have an Aboriginal group called Didji Kids. This group meets once a week to share culture. The primary children of this group decided to enter the SRC art competition. We planned our collaborative collage after discussing the importance of the land and sea to our community. Our school St Joseph’s Laurieton sits under a very special mountain on Birpai Country. The Dreamtime story of 3 brothers named Dooragan, Mooragan and Booragan tell how the three brothers turned into mountains. Our school and town, Laurieton, lies beneath the biggest mountain, Dooragan. The river that runs through our town and into the ocean is the Camden Haven River and it is very important to our small town of Laurieton. It gives our town a life source just as it did for our ancestors thousands of years ago. Our art work is a mixed media collage and shows the 3 brother mountains and how our community connects to nature. It shows how water flows through our town and leads to the ocean through a rocky break wall. The yellow, white and green dots represent our school colours and the children of our Catholic school. The red, white and black dots are the colours of our local soccer and rugby league club which many of our students are members. The black and white dots symbolise our local surf club. We have djiraa (crab) to show the totem of our town with some fish in the water along with a djiraa trap. The water in our town has provided food and jobs for its people. We have also shown the middens that can still be found in our area and are proof that our ancestors lived by the water for thousands of years.

Reconciliation means:
We believe that reconciliation means all Australians unite as one and can live together in peace for a better future. We do this at our school and in our community by acknowledging and respecting all the different peoples, cultures and by caring for Country.

'Our Waters, Our Home' by Redfern Jarjum College, Schools Reconciliation Challenge 2022, Art Collaborations finalist

Title: Our Waters, Our Home
Artists: Senior and junior students of Redfern Jarjum College
School: Redfern Jarjum College
Category: Art Collaborations finalist

Artist statement: Artwork from Redfern Jarjum College. “Our Waters, Our Home” is inspired from the theme of “Our Island Home” as it celebrates our peoples’ connection to the waters both on country and the great ocean that sorrounds us. The artwork features traditional stories as follows: Bundjalung country - nguthungulli, the creator of the waters. The artwork also shows the rainbow serpent, creator of the mountains and the sea. Gumbaynngirr - the bend in the river was caused by the giant - Ngambaa- who was speared and fell. His body made an imprint which is now the bend of the river. Kamilaroi country - the story of the Emu in the sky in November when it is seen resting in a waterhole. Wiradjuri - the story of the duck Gayga who disrespected her elders and was captured by a water rat. Brewarrina -how the fish traps were used by the local Aboriginal people. The rainbow serpent weaves around from our school in Sydney, around the lands of our students and through their stories. This artwork has been created by the Senior and Junior class at Redfern Jarjum College.

Reconciliation means:
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians working, learning and living together.

'Our Sustainable Steps towards Reconciliation' by Oxley Park Public School, Schools Reconciliation Challenge 2022, Art Collaborations finalist

Title: Our Sustainable Steps towards Reconciliation
Artists: All students at Oxley Park Public School
School: Oxley Park Public School
Category: Art Collaborations finalist

Artist statement: We at Oxley Park Public School acknowledge each and every day that we meet and learn on Darug land. We continue to think of new, innovative and eco-friendly ways to show our appreciation of Country and culture. Throughout the year, while we celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recongised events including NAIDOC week, the students at Oxley Park all contributed to painting a tree round with an Aboriginal totem. We used soft pastel colours to represent our connection and focus on caring for our rivers and waterways, as well as native flora and fauna. During these experiences, all students were taught about Aboriginal culture and history, deepening their knowledge of language and traditions. The students then placed their painted rounds in the shape of a river, surrounding our river of rocks made during our 2021 NAIDOC celebrations. The river of rounds and rocks lead towards our sustainable, solar powered pond that attracts local fauna to create a peaceful, connected place for students to connect to Country and culture.

Reconciliation means:
At Oxley Park Public School, our vision for Reconciliation is established by our belief that we are all on the same journey to reconciliation together. We aim to move forward together by recognising the past and looking to the future. We respect and honour the past and have the vision to close the learning gap for our Aboriginal students. We believe in equal participation of all people in respect to connecting to Darug land and learning about Dharug language. Our school values the connection to Country and we aim to excel in making these connections through our Koori and bush tucker gardens, Darug culture and traditions, and Dharug language signs throughout our school. We appreciate and aim to create strong bonds and relationships with Community, working together for a reconciled future.

See other finalists