Sandra Saunders has put this country's history - and discourse around it - clearly on canvas as part of Country Arts SA's exhibition Saltbush Country.
The Ngarrindjeri and Buandig woman is exhibiting two pieces; Finder's Keepers, which depicts the invasion of Captain Cook, and The Time Is Now, which addresses discussion about the Voice to Parliament and the Uluru Statement of the Heart. The works complement each other and are designed to be seen side-by-side in a gallery space.
Sandra said she likes to paint about affairs past and present, and the Voice to Parliament has been on her mind.
"I've thought about it a lot. I have reservations, but I'm supporting it," she said.
In Finders Keepers, the canvas is take up by HMS Endeavour, with its name written on the sails. Behind the ship, the canvas is red - depicting the land - and has First Nations people all over it with spears in their hands.
Sandra has also included the text "all they seem'd to want was for us to be gone" - a quote from Captain Cook's diaries.
"Even though they knew that Aboriginal people were there, they still claimed terra nullius and the country for England; that's what the painting is about," she said.
"I'm saying, 'that's the past'."
In The Time Is Now, vignettes including people meeting under Uluru, plus Parliament House and a grandfather clock showing the time of three minutes to 12, depicting discussion around the Statement and the Voice.
"It's saying the time is ticking down and we have come of age. It's been so long since Cook came; 200-odd years. Surely it's time for us to do something to give Aboriginal people a voice," Sandra said.
She has owned and lived in The Old Lake Wangary Hotel - later operated as a general store - at Wangary, 45km north-west of Port Lincoln, for 20 years. The Eyre Peninsula is rich in Sandra's history; her father was a railway worker and she went to school in Port Lincoln. While the family moved away, Sandra returned in later years and it was her children who inspired her to move to Wangary.
"A couple of my kids lived at Wangary and I found out that the shop here was being sold, so I went and visited and I bought it," she said.
The Saltbush Country exhibition includes works by Aboriginal artists working independently across regional South Australia.
Opened in Port Pirie on September 23 before it moves to Adelaide in November, the exhibition is part of Tarnanthi, the Art Gallery of South Australia's festival of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
The works, curated by Tarnanthi regional curator Marika Davies, are the result of a series of community workshops, mentoring and professional development opportunities catering for prominent regional artists.
The artists include Josephine Lennon (Mirning and Antikirinjara peoples, SA), Juanella McKenzie (Adnyamathanha, Luritja and Lower Southern Arrernte peoples, SA/NT), Marli Macumba (Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara peoples, SA) Deanna Newchurch (Narungga people, SA), Lynette Newchurch, (Narungga people, SA), Sandra Saunders (Ngarrindjeri and Buandig peoples, SA), and Heather Shearer, (Arrernte people, NT/SA).
Tarnanthi is the Art Gallery of South Australia's festival of contemporary art by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across the country.
Acclaimed as Australia's leading First Nations art festival, this year it comprises exhibitions at the gallery; a state-wide festival with exhibitions and accompanying events across 36 venues; and the Tarnanthi Art Fair, an in-person and online event in 2023. The program includes series of exhibitions, artist talks, performances, and events.
Western Aranda artist Vincent Namatjira - the great-grandson of Arrente watercolour artist Albert Namatjira - will have his first-ever survey exhibition debut at the festival.
The word 'tarnanthi' (pronounced TAR-nan-dee) comes from the language of the Kaurna people, the traditional owners of the Adelaide Plains. It means to spring forth or appear - like the sun and the first emergence of light.
Visit agsa.sa.gov.au for further details.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.