Sharing the spirit of place and courage through art

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Advocare acknowledges Indigenous artist, Barbara Bynder and her wonderful artwork. Each day our team gets to enjoy the colour, vibrancy, courage and spirit of place that exudes from her piece of work proudly on display at our head office.

Barbara is a Ballardong Whadjuk Noongar woman from the eastern Wheatbelt region of Western Australia following her mother’s lineage, and has connections with Badimia people from Yamitji country following her paternal lineage (Curtin University).

To mark National Reconciliation Week (27 May-3 June) we’d like to share this art piece commissioned by Advocare some years ago, that deserves to be seen by more people. Recently we were excited to find tucked away in our archives the story that accompanies this piece. We’ve released some of it below for you to enjoy as you view the piece. It walks through the painting, revealing different elements of cultural and spiritual significance.

You can find out more about what acticities and events are happening around Perth and the regions to be part of the week by visiting the National Reconciliation Week Events Calendar webpage.

Artwork Barbara Bynder


Reds and blacks are the earth and maintains an Aboriginal identity, red black and yellow being the colours on the Aboriginal flag as well as the colour of the earth in some parts of Western Australia.

Blue areas are water. Some of the blue is ocean water and the raindrop (Fresh Water on the painting) covers the entire artwork because rain falls onto the earth and seeps into the landscape, forming waterways, lakes and rivers and sustains life.
Light yellows and greens are beach sand and wet water where the ocean meets the beach.

Orange, pinks and yellows at the bottom of the artwork are representing the different areas of land that change as you drive from South to North, East to West. An ever-changing landscape. However, you will notice how the colours merge as they move from one area to another.

Turtles represent age and wisdom as well as growing from young to old.

Circles represent mia mia, camps and rock-holes. Most importantly the circles represent HOME. All people feel that they belong somewhere and to something or to some group or another. Either way wherever it is that people feel they belong it is being home that the majority of people identify with. This is important for reconciliation because it is working together on shared land that we call home that we reflect on the need to move forward with respect and understanding for each other. Although each home is different as shown in the painting there are also commonalities between us that bind us together. Same but different (Richard Walley, Noongar Elder). Finding the balance and understanding ‘same but different’ is key to reconciliation.

The Landscape

The Landscape at the bottom of the painting tells us that the land too is ‘same but different’ and it is this that ties us to each other because it is on the land that we share our lives. Each landscape determines who we are and how we live depending on whether you live north, east, south or west because not only does the physical landscape change so too does the weather. Changing landscapes respond to environmental conditions yet it manages to sit side by side harmoniously. RAP Plans are about walking together side by side and adjusting to environmental changes just like the landscape and is ever changing.

The Raindrop to the left and centre of the painting takes up the visual identity. Water is the sustenance for life as it seeps into the earth via rainfall and creates the waterways, lakes and rivers that we are so blessed to have here in Western Australia. Our landscape is littered with lakes, rivers and waterways and it is here that life is abundant. RAP Plans are about walking together into a future full of abundance that is accessible for everyone. The concept of rain is that it flows freely and effortlessly and sometimes it floods causing damage and chaos yet when it is light to medium rainfall it works with the landscape to form the necessary waterholes that provide us with sustainable life. Using the concept of rain allows us to see a pathway to the future. Step lightly, be gentle and move forward with respect and understanding, this will alleviate damage and chaos and create sustainability for the future.

The Ocean is a formidable force. It is surrounded by strength, power and beauty. It is contradictory because its beauty deceives us into allaying the power that lies within so that we can feel safe as we swim and play in and on the ocean. Using this analogy with RAP translates to it being up to us to look within ourselves and to reflect on our own response to others thereby empowering ourselves to acknowledge, understand and respect our differences as we walk together into the future. Power and strength come from within and how we use power and strength will determine how we shape the future.

This painting is about life experiences that are sometimes rugged and harsh, yet it is the moments of beauty and reflection that provide us with the wisdom to move forward as we grow older despite the fact that the landscape in which we walk is ever changing. If we look within we will find the power and the strength that we need to walk the journey together acknowledging our past, understanding our differences and with respect for each other paving the way into a future full of abundance for everyone.

Artist Barbara Bynder also holds a BA (Arts), HDR Anthropology, Professional Certificate Indigenous Research, Candidature Masters Anthropology, and is owner of Karda Designs.