Jolea Isaacs creates new Indigenous art piece for Inverell Public School

It was a proud moment for Aboriginal artist Jolea Isaacs last Friday, when her mural of Australian animals was revealed at Inverell Public School. 

The collaborative project was the brainchild of Ashlee Doak, a University of New England (UNE) teaching student, as a part of her enhanced teacher training scholarship.

“I really wanted to get something for the school that included the community and that would really benefit the school and that the children would be able to look at and keep going back to,” she said.

She said a key part of her project was finding an opportunity for the Aboriginal community to visit and collaborate with the school. 

Labelled with the creatures’ Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay names, the artwork was completed with a frame made up of kindergarteners’ handprints.

“It’s good that I can share this with the young students,” Ms Isaacs said.

“I’m an ex student here. I would love to give back something to the school.” 

Ms Isaacs, who used traditional ochre paint to create the piece, said it was very special to share her culture and language with the school. She was touched by kindergarten’s performance of the song Red, Black and Yellow.

“It’s good seeing the kids sitting up and singing it. It wasn’t at school when I was younger,” she said. 

Inverell High School’s Miles Jerrard performed the didgeridoo.

Ms Doak said she was excited but nervous about the unveiling. She felt the staff and wider community were very supportive, and that Ms Isaacs exceeded her expectations with the final piece. 

“She’s created something that’s unbelievable. The kids will be able to use it. They’re all so excited, so yeah, she definitely hit the mark,” Ms Doak said.

UNE professional experience liaison officer Peter Pickett said the core focus of the project was bringing the school and wider community together. He praised Ms Doak for involving both the Aboriginal community and students, and felt she had “enhanced the learning program”.

He said the success of the project was a testament to Inverell Public’s strong relationship with the Aboriginal community and openness to university prac students. 

The prestigious enhanced teacher training scholarship doesn’t just support Ms Doak in her internship, but guarantees permanent employment with the Department of Education. 

UNE student Katrina Doak, who is completing her practical at Tingha Public School, has been creating her own project –  a bush tucker garden – to be revealed this Thursday afternoon, September 21 at 2.30pm. 

“She’s having a terrific time,” he said.


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