The Armidale Art Gallery, off the Mall, opened three new exhibitions on Saturday night, featuring an Indigenous artist; two local grandmothers; and New England residents' response to offshore detention.
Dunghatti artist Milton Budge presents a collection of his paintings.
Mr Budge has displayed his vibrant artworks in Canberra's National Gallery, the Australian Gallery in Sydney, and other leading Australian art spaces.
"I firmly believe the sense of balance and colour is a gift to Aboriginal people," Mr Budge said.
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Mr Budge, a member of the Stolen Generation, grew up at Burnt Bridge Mission, Kempsey. He has loved art since boyhood.
He painted European landscapes in oils until the bicentenary year 1988, when he combined them with Aboriginal art - one of the first artists to put Black and White styles together.
That, Mr Budge said, made his name; he was awarded the National Aboriginal Art Award - Darwin in 1989.
He compared painting to an apprenticeship; he learnt techniques and the old-time teachings from his clan elders.
Mr Budge was also awarded the Parliament of NSW Indigenous Art Prize in 2007.
Children's book illustrator Fiona McDonald and Lee Milroy, vice-president of the New England Art Society, thought of calling their joint exhibition "The Nanny and Granny Show".
They are united by grannyhood; Lee's son David is Fiona's son-in-law.
Their original intention was for an exhibition of flower and animal paintings in spring; Fiona's idea when she first saw Lee's pastel paintings of flowers. Their show comes earlier than planned - and the drought has killed Fiona's flowers.
Their exhibition, instead, includes Fiona's illustrations from myths and legends - with the occasional cane toad, and Lee's pictures of birds, horses, dogs, sheep, Rocky River landscapes - and flowers.
Fiona McDonald has had eleven books published internationally, including an illustrated graphic novel, a best-selling history of street art, and illustrations for French and Scottish fairy tales.
She read C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia when she was eight. "I've been looking for Narnia eve since, and find it through making things for children's books."
She is working on her Master of Arts in Creative Practice at UNE, a novella featuring characters from Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, and would like to make a graphic novel for adults,
Lee Milroy wanted a career as an artist - but her nun teachers convinced her to follow a more practical path into nursing and teaching.
"My art practice ceased before I l left school, which was very unfortunate, because I spent all my time doing art at home," she said.
Since retiring, she has returned to painting, with three exhibitions at the Armidale Art Gallery.
Power and Process
The final exhibition is a political consciousness-raiser, organised by Armidale Rural Australians for Refugees.
Local artists responded to a drawing and poem by Farhad Bandesh, a Kurdish artist imprisoned on Manus Island.
"This exhibition looks at the act of imprisoning people indefinitely offshore but also onshore," ARAR member Rebecca Molyneux said.
"We want to make audible voices that have been silenced, because of imprisonment. The voice we're hearing tonight is Farhad's. We want to bring his idea of humanity to this policy, and to refugee politics in general.
"Refugee politics here is strikingly racist, or can be, and politicians here can be strikingly tenacious with their portrayal of refugees as inhuman. Part of tonight is about contesting that."
Thirty-eight local artists responded with paintings; an installation of a seedpod boat; woodwork; historic photographs of Cambodian refugee camps; and poetry. Many artists will donate proceeds from their work to ARAR.
Member Bar Finch thanked the artists who "showed support for the people trapped on Manus & Nauru for six years now without any hope, and their opposition to our government's policies in not solving that quicker, and using these people as hostages".
Patsy Asch, also an ARAR member, found it ironic that a national day of mourning was held for the fifth anniversary of the Ezidi massacre at Shingal earlier on Saturday.
"It was extremely moving - but many of the people held on Manus Island and Nauru, and some of the onshore detention, are Kurdish people or other Iraqis or Syrians who have had very similar experiences."
The artists and poets will talk about their work at the gallery at 12.30pm on Saturday.
The Armidale Art Gallery, Armidale Central Mall, is open Monday to Friday 10 - 4 pm, and Saturday 10 - 1 pm. Exhibitions run until August 27.