23 June 2022
"Get up! Stand up! Show up!" – Isabelle Oderberg uncovers photographers Tiffany Garvie and Jacinta Keefe’s strong connection to this year’s NAIDOC Week theme and how it is represented through their work.
The theme for National NAIDOC Week is set each year by the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) and this year aims to demonstrate how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities “cannot afford to lose momentum for change”.
The Committee explains, “We all must continue to Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! for systemic change and keep rallying around our mob, our Elders, our communities. Whether it’s seeking proper environmental, cultural and heritage protections, Constitutional change, a comprehensive process of truth-telling, working towards treaties, or calling out racism – we must do it together.”
Photographer Tiffany Garvie
When photographer Tiffany Garvie was invited to select some of her images to adorn an Arts Centre Melbourne banner to celebrate NAIDOC Week 2022 and this year’s theme, “Get up! Stand up! Show up!”, she wanted to draw attention to the different ways in which staunch activists can work for community.
A Gunggari woman, Tiffany grew up in the small town of Nhulunbuy in Arnhem Land, but has lived and worked all over Australia. She worked as a radio broadcaster with the ABC in New South Wales – Sydney, Wagga Wagga and Orange – as well as with 4AAA Murri Country in Brisbane (BIMA) and 6AR Noongar Radio in Perth. After living in Perth, Tiffany decided to relocate to Naarm (Melbourne).
Her way of connecting with and contributing to the local community is to document community stories and events held by local mob.
“They’ve been very welcoming and really open to me capturing images for them. And for me, especially when I do portraits or anything like the Elders’ portraits or the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll, the most important thing is for me to have a conversation. I don’t even bring out my camera at the start. You need to have that conversation with people first, just to see who that person is.”
Both of the photos Tiffany selected for her banner for NAIDOC Week – which runs from July 3 to July 10 – were taken at Sorbaes: Double Dip, held late last year at Sidney Myer Music Bowl. The event was a collaboration between Gunnai/Kurnai, Yorta Yorta, Wiradjuri DJ Soju Gang and Footscray Community Arts. Beyond being a cracking event and brilliant party, it represented the return of live music in Melbourne, giving an additional depth and dimension to the feelings on the day.
“It was one of the first major events after those lockdowns from last year, where all the women and all the community and all the performances went together,” Tiffany recalls. “I really felt like it was wonderful seeing everyone back on stage and reconnecting with each other and lots of hugs and lots of love in the room. And being there to document part of that was really special.”
Mandy Nicholson performing at this years’ Sorbes: Double Dip event at Sidney Myer Music Bowl
The first image selected by Tiffany for her banner is of Mandy Nicholson, Wurundjeri-Willam artist, songwriter, storyteller and Traditional Owner of Melbourne and surrounds. She is also the founder of the dance troupe, Djirri Djirri.
“Mandy turns up for her culture every single day,” explains Tiffany. “She’s there 100 per cent, meaning she shows up at events, she shows up for her family, she shows up for her grandkids, she shows up for culture.”
Barkaa performing at this years’ 'Sorbes: Double Dip' event at Sidney Myer Music Bowl
The second image is of Malyangapa and Barkindji woman Barkaa. Barkaa has been a star on the rise since her signing to Bad Apple Records, founded by music icon Briggs. In the powerful image, she stands, microphone at her mouth, fist in the air in a black power salute, wearing a t-shirt commemorating the death of Kumanjayi Walker, a 22-year old Warlpiri man shot and killed by police in November 2019.
“Barkaa always puts on a performance. She’s always speaking up. I mean, just look at the t-shirt she’s wearing in that photo; she’s speaking up for Walker,” Tiffany explains. “She doesn’t just say or wear that, she lives and breathes it at night. She stands up. She’s there and it really just shows through in everything she does.”
As people walk past her banner during NAIDOC Week, Tiffany hopes that they can see the depth and breadth of community and the ways in which you can show up and be counted.
“I really hope they take with them that there’s multiple generations at work here,” she explains. “There are different ways of showing up; there’s music and performance through to a loud voice that speaks out. Barkaa is a young performer and Mandy speaks up through her culture. They’re two different generations standing up and showing up in two different ways but they ways they do it best. Barkaa through her music and direct lyrics, Mandy through her language and culture.”
Photographer Jacinta Keefe
Jacinta Keefe is a proud Wiradjuri woman with ties to the Galari Bila (Lachlan River) in New South Wales. Jacinta graduated from The Victorian College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Visual Arts Photography in 2015 and went on to pursue to passion for live music photography in Naarm. “I started with hardcore, heavy metal, and I still lean towards that, because that’s what I enjoy listening to, but I’ll photograph anything!” She laughs. Not living on country Jacinta felt disconnected. “The only way I could almost get a connection was covering these community events that popped up, so I just tagged along, taking pictures and eventually that turned into hiring me for events.” Local mob took her under their wing and supported her with work through Covid. “It really solidified my connection to my job and I got to meet people I hadn’t ever heard of in the community and vice versa. It really helped me connect with people and it was lovely.”
Music icon Archie Roach at last years’ 'Share The Spirit' event at Sidney Myer Music Bowl
Jacinta was also asked to select two of her images for use on an Arts Centre banner during NAIDOC Week. The first she chose is of Aboriginal and music icon Uncle Archie Roach, which was taken at Share the Spirit Festival at Sydney Myer Music Bowl. The shot is taken just before Roach is wrapped in a possum skin cloak by actor Jack Charles and singer-songwriter-musician Robbie Bundle, CEO of Songlines, Victoria’s peak Aboriginal music body.
“It was just a really beautiful moment and I thought it was a really nice way to honour him but also the work that he’s done for mob through the years. I’ve been very fortunate to work with him a few times,” Jacinta says. A staunch Gunditjmara/Bundjalung man, Roach is as renowned for his activism as his music, giving voice to the Stolen Generations of which he himself is a member.
'Treaty Day Out' festival at the Rumbalara Footy Club
The second photo Jacinta selected is of the grounds during the Treaty Day Out festival at the Rumbalara Footy Club grounds in Shepparton on Yorta Yorta Country. It had been hot all day and then the rains started. But with a line-up of some of the most iconic Aboriginal music acts – Yothu Yindi, Briggs, Archie Roach, Electric Fields to name a few – the crowd wasn’t budging.
“Everyone came together, enjoyed the day and then it turned into a storm. The scary lightning kind and it was getting close to use. Some people ran off to their cars, but a lot of people still just sat on the ground, chatted with their friends and ate food. They still showed up for the mob putting on the show.”
Jacinta's banner illustrates the two things she loves the most; portraits of people on stage and being at a show and getting to share a connection with mob. “The shared experience of being at a show, for me, is quite beautiful.”
She also hopes the people who look at the banner bearing her images take away some humanity. “We’re human too and we have our own fights. We all want to come together, go out to a show together, just enjoy life and the simple things."
Article by Isabelle Oderberg