Gubbi Gubbi’s wife and artist from Ngunnawal Country, Maggie Jean Douglas, had always dreamed of winning the NAIDOC poster competition and when it happened she said the hardest part was keeping it a secret.

“I was at work and wanted to scream,” she said.

“I wanted to tell everyone, but I had to keep it a secret for a month!”

Douglas said she had wanted to compete in the NAIDOC week poster competition for a number of years but never thought she could portray past issues well enough.

While creating her play Care for Country, Douglas said she had a deep resonance with this year’s Heal Country theme and wanted to think about how holistic healing is.

“When the subject came out and I read the description, I understood why it contained all of these elements,” said Douglas.

The NAIDOC website explains the importance of the land: “The land is inherent in our identity. It sustains our life in every way – mentally, physically, emotionally, socially and culturally. “

“The past few years have been tough for everyone, but with the deaths in custody, the Black Lives Matter movement and the bushfires, it’s been especially tough for the indigenous community,” said Douglas.

In her holistic approach, she said she wanted to include all nations across Australia.

“That’s why I used so many colors – I wanted to make sure everyone was able to relate to them,” said Douglas.

As she was creating the piece, she thought about what healing meant for her personally.

“To me, I know that returning home and having time with family and community is very important to my healing. That is why I have brought many elements of people together to represent family and community,” she said.

The young artist said the inclusion of elements of traditional medicine was essential to depict how cultural knowledge and land can physically heal.

“It’s easy sometimes to forget how much bush medicine was used and how important it was and still is, so I included things like wickerwork and eucalyptus,” she said.

Douglas said it was overwhelming to have her art recognized nationally.

“It is a great honor to be selected. I’m just very grateful that the NAIDOC committee felt that my artwork represented this year’s theme well enough to be part of the story, ”she said.

“It’s incredible to me. It still feels amazing. “

Douglas admitted that she had told her mother that she had won but tried not to think about it until the announcement because she would be too excited.

Now able to tell the world and share the meaning behind her piece, Douglas said her focus is on building her portfolio as an emerging artist and giving back to her community.

“I want to keep growing my commission portfolio and start a company and a website,” she said.

“At some point I want to be able to use my art to give something back and just do what I can, wherever I can.”

You can follow Maggie Douglas’ journey and see her upcoming projects on her Instagram @ngalindou.

From Madison Howarth

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