Aboriginal Artist Pauline Coxon used to be a Tenant Advocate, and in 2015 she created this brilliant painting about tenancy issues. The Tenants’ Union of NSW commissioned her to paint anything that inspired her about tenancy. We're so happy with the painting and the powerful messages it contains! Thanks Pauline. If you would like to learn more about Pauline, please visit her website: paulinecoxon.com. Pauline explains her painting below.
About the painting
By Pauline Coxon – the artist
This painting has been inspired by the logo of the Tenants’ Union of NSW but with a Koori design and symbolism. The four squares are Community, Key to Success, Lending a Hand and Making Tracks to Your Tenancy, Coming Home. I used Australian Aboriginal generic symbols such as the camp ground for community, the rainbow serpent and the bush foods. The tools I used are all commonly used by Aboriginal communities. The tracks and the animals I choose are also found throughout NSW. I did not wish to use symbols, foods or tracks that were particularly from my country Worimi and Biripi Country, as I really wanted to connect to all Aboriginal communities. I felt that it was culturally appropriate to use universal symbols such as the Rainbow Serpent and the Southern Cross as they are easy recognisable symbols that all Australians connect with including the Aboriginal community. I wanted the painting to visually tell a story and that all cultures would be able to interpret. I also wanted the painting to be visually appealing and interesting, so it drew the viewer into the message. I present the final painting with great excitement!
The painting begins with Community (lower left). This image has as its centre a camp site, with different family structures and individuals represented. Looking at the people there are adults with children, single adults with children and adults without children. The community is looking for home and they are in need of a tenancy. The camp site in the centre represents their tenancy but they all are unable to reach it at the moment. The community has to reach out for support.
Key to Success
This image (lower right) is one of the directions that the community may go to obtain their tenancy. The Rainbow Serpent is an Aboriginal dreamtime story icon that represents creation. The rainbow serpent is within the key to a successful tenancy with the support of abundance and resources. The bush tucker represents this abundance, with purple Bush Plums, red Lilly Pilly’s and orange Yams. A healthy community has a healthy tenancy that can be sustained.
Lending a Hand
This image (upper left) represents another direction that the community may wish to go. By giving advice and advocacy, the Network of Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Services is able to lend a hand. The tools surrounding the helping hand are from the bottom and going in a clockwise direction: Hunting Spear, Woomera, Shield, Boomerang, Stone Axe, Digging Stick, Fishing Spear, Dilly Bag, Colomon, Grinding Stone and Bowl, Non-Return Boomerang, Nulla Nulla, and Clap Sticks. By utilising the tools, the community will find the keys to their tenancy in the palm of their hand. The community only has to reach out to access the tools.
Making Tracks to Your Tenancy, Coming Home
This image (upper right) is the final destination for the community to arrive, and that is coming home. The tracks surrounding the house are all on their journey to the entry of their tenancy. Starting on the left hand side and going in a clockwise direction you will notice the tracks of a Lizard, Koala, Kangaroo, Man, Emu, Dingo, Platypus and Echidna. All are equal and represent the totems of our ancestors and the diversity of our community today. The Southern Cross is a symbol of our great southern land and traditionally was used to navigate the land. A tenant stands illuminated with light in the door way, they have made tracks to their tenancy and are coming home.