Western’s artwork is an example of reconciliation in practice

Early last year, Western Sydney University’s Executive team, together with a group of academics and professional staff, participated in a full-day cultural exchange workshop to enhance their understanding of Country and culture.

This was co-facilitated by Allan McKenzie – a proud Wiradjuri Gamilaroi man from Griffith NSW. Allan has painted for over 29 years and promotes Aboriginal culture through optical storytelling, song, and dance. It was at this cultural workshop that the journeyed artwork commenced.

Since then, Allan has facilitated a number of workshops where over 120 individuals, including Western Sydney University staff and students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, contributed to the painting and engaged in Aboriginal cultural learning. This artwork provided all the opportunity to yarn and learn.

The painting is incredibly detailed and hangs at nearly two and a half metres long by one metre wide. It is entitled ‘Those who came before us’ and is owned by none, yet owned by all, and is a great example of reconciliation in practice.

Allan McKenzie says that it is truly a remarkable piece.

“It has been an honour to work with Western Sydney University over the past year on this artwork. I would like to thank Professor Michelle Trudgett, Pro Vice-Chancellor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, Strategy and Consultation, and Fiona Towney, Director of Badanami Centre for Indigenous Education, for inviting me to be involved in this artistic journey. It was a privilege to facilitate the painting and important yarns about Aboriginal cultures and support necessary for Aboriginal people in the education system,” said Mr McKenzie.

Professor Michelle Trudgett, Pro Vice-Chancellor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, Strategy and Consultation at Western Sydney University, says this piece of art is a great example of reconciliation in practice.

“Under the expert guidance of the wonderful Allan McKenzie, this artwork brought together a large number of staff and students who shared a vision to create a beautiful story about the area. I am incredibly proud of the manner in which staff and students collaborated as they shared stories and laughs in an environment that supported their learning journey. On behalf of the University, I would like to thank Allan and everyone who contributed to this artwork,” said Professor Trudgett.

The painting is now proudly hanging in the Chancellery foyer on Parramatta South campus where it can be viewed by all.

To find out more about Allan’s advocacy, artworks, apparel and his portfolio of workshops, educational experiences, and community activities, visit his web page (opens in a new window).


2 July 2021

Matilda Harry, Media Officer