Embodying this year’s theme of ‘In this together,’ Western Australia’s Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) are calling for sponsors for the Reconciliation Week Street Banner Project.

In its ninth year, the Project aims to bring together local councils and various sponsors to display Reconciliation Week banners in noticeable locations across the state.

Last year’s banner count reached 417, with 120 organisations sponsoring the banners spanning 17 local government areas. This year, the banner count is set to reach over 500.

A DLGSC spokesperson said the banners are a good visual promoter of Aboriginal culture and Reconciliation.

“[It] reinforces the importance of recognising the contributions of Aboriginal people and businesses in our communities.”

“These beautiful and dynamic artworks attract the attention of the wider public and community, which also reveal a different story or depiction of Aboriginal Country in Western Australia each year.

“By doing so, the banners engage the public to consider and participate in Reconciliation and promote National Reconciliation Week’s message.”

The 2020 artwork is by Derby-born artist, Tee Jay Worrigal. Raised in Yiyili on Gooniyandi Country, Worrigal was taught to paint by the Elders in his family.

Now living in Perth, Worrigal’s art often features themes of rebirth, regrowth, burning of Country and beauty.

He’s proud to have his work in display across the state.

“It makes me feel that we are taking those steps towards reconciling, working together,” Worrigal said.

“Those small steps are actually happening, those conversations are happening, those events are happening. I don’t want it to be tokenistic.”

“It’s about … getting to know and acknowledge and celebrate our culture.

“We have to look after Country by teaching those cultures, coming together with non-Indigenous people [and asking], how do we grow from here?”

The artist said he shares his stories and connects with non-Indigenous people through his painting, however it is not Aboriginal peoples’ responsibility to educate non-Indigenous people.

“Non-Indigenous people have a responsibility to seek information about our culture, especially given that there is easy access to our culture through the arts, including paintings but also including theatre, music, film and TV.”

For Worrigal, art is a powerful first step in promoting dialogue around Reconciliation.

“You can go to any country in the world and we may not speak the language but … we connect with different cultures around the world and understand each other [through art],” Worrigal said.

“Art is one of the stepping stones of having [those] conversations.”

The graphic design work is also Aboriginal-led this year, with Nyangumarta and Yorta Yorta graphic designer, Jilalga Murray, putting together the banners.

Each banner will feature this year’s Reconciliation Week message, ‘In this together’, Worrigal’s artwork and the logo of the sponsoring organisation.

The DLGSC suggests banners can be part of an organisation’s Reconciliation Action Plan, with sponsors being invited to attend a launch at the Art Gallery of WA to celebrate the banner project and Reconciliation Week.

Applications for banner sponsorship close on Friday March 27. For more information and access to forms, visit: https://www.dlgsc.wa.gov.au/department/reconciliation-week-street-banner-project.

By Hannah Cross