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Art empowering community women

For the first time, an exhibition of unique art and craft works by the women of Woorabinda is now open at the State Library of Queensland.

Wednesday June 17, 2015

Red Cross staffer and artist Janelle Evans with artist Pamela Watson with some of the group's works (Red Cross/Susan Cullinan)

The exhibition, Renewed by Gumbi Crew showcases a collection of mixed media works created by the Gumbi Gunyah Women and Children's Wellbeing Centre operated by Red Cross in the central Queensland Aboriginal community of Woorabinda.

As well as accommodation, the centre offers programs for women to meet up, support and empower one another. One of the programs is a weekly art and craft session, where the women create unique works from recycled and donated materials.

They share their stories with each other, find support, and to keep busy with their hands, creating beautiful, functional, and culturally rich objects.

The Gumbi Gunyah Women and Children's Wellbeing Centre supports women predominantly affected by homelessness, and domestic and family violence.

The pieces in Renewed are a selection of mixed media works made from recycled and donated materials, both natural and synthetic - including paintings on canvas; clothing items; jewellery created with beads, echidna quills, and natural seeds from the bush; quilts, wall hangings and other household items.

Janelle Evans, artist, Red Cross senior caseworker and member of the Gumbi Crew, said she hoped the exhibition would empower the women to see beyond Woorabinda, and encourage them to establish a small business to supplement the family incomes.

"By increasing women's self esteem they are less likely to become caught up in family and domestic violence -which is an issue we have to address as a nation," Ms Evans said.

"We want to address this at community level, and to positively contribute to the cultural and economic development of Indigenous Australians from our region."

Opening the exhibition, Queensland's Minister for Science and Innovation Leeanne Enoch said the pieces curated for Renewed are a remarkable celebration of survival, and reflect the resilience and strength of spirit of the Gumbi Crew.

"The Centre provides a safe space for the women to come together in harmony, and to promote healing of the transgenerational trauma they have suffered," she said.

Renewed by Gumbi Crew is now open in kuril dhagun on level 1 of the State Library building at Brisbane's South Bank. The exhibition runs until 4 October 2015.