Creative Spotlight | Darren Charlwood

Published on 19 March 2024

Darren C

Darren-C-1.png Tell us a bit about who you are and what kind of creative work you make
I’m an Aboriginal cultural educator, artist and an Indigenous Ranger for NSW National Parks, Blue Mountains area. My Indigenous heritage is Wiradjuri, my kin group is Yibaay Wagaan which means my “country is the central NSW”. My cultural identity is represented in my arts practice as well as my totem. My art is about education and cultural representation, I love painting murals in schools and public spaces. I also like creating works for Reconciliation Action Plans and have done so for many organisations and government bodies. I’m also big on environmental education being a holder of traditional knowledge and I’m in a position to give insight to Indigenous perspectives regarding environmental issues and how we got it right for a length of time that’s hard to get your head around.

Darren C Art Whereabouts do you look for creative ideas? Who or what inspires you?
Inspiration hopefully finds me working (Picasso), but seriously, my inspiration comes from my cultural heritage as well as time spent in nature. I had the amazing opportunity of being artist in residence and holding arts workshops last year in Katoomba YHA. Spending time in such a beautiful location, I produced a few landscapes of the mountains. I find inspiration in the various commissions and call outs for artists taking on the task of applying cultural perspectives through my own Wiradjurii Yibaay Wagaan art traditions. I also find inspiration in the resilience of the Aboriginal communities across the Sydney basin and more broadly across NSW. It’s also extremely inspirational working with our kids and conducting arts workshops across the broader community. My gallery Boomalli Aboriginal arts co-op is another nourishingly inspirational space.

Darren C Art How does your personal history, culture or experience inform your creative work?
Culture is the primary focus of my work and arts practice. Growing up in Australia as a fair passing Indigenous person has definitely influenced my perspectives in my life and art. I walk in two worlds, one that for most of my life has refused to acknowledge my identity through my heritage and the other that accepts my heritage and identity but there is an understanding that I haven’t been born into the same hardships as darker skinned members of my family and the broader community. My arts practice in its early stages was a protest and still to a degree it is, but it’s a lot more challenging to come up with solutions and its why I focus on education. I realised that through education, I can altar future outcomes using art in public spaces and schools, teaching the next generation to have an appreciation for the richness and diversity of the Indigenous groups that cover this amazing country we call Australia is where the real lasting change comes from.

Darren C Art What creative projects are you working on at the moment?
I have a couple of projects in the works at the moment. I’m waiting for a high rise in Hurstville to be finished so I can go and install a 9m x 6m mural. It’s an aerial view (Indigenous map) of the immediate surrounding area that the viewer can position themselves in, thereby viewing themselves in an Indigenous landscape. I’ve also had the honour of being shortlisted in the Georges River Council Reconciliation Action Plan artwork, seeing that Hurstville is part of the council area my idea was to expand the Hurstville map idea to cover the whole of the council district enabling the residents of the area to view themselves, position their street, suburb, school or work where it has actually always been on Aboriginal land. 

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