Emma Pritchard, Clarence Valley Independent
After having her beautiful artwork decorate the majestic sails of the Sydney Opera House earlier this year, proud Yaegl artist Frances Belle Parker’s latest project is currently being displayed on a smaller canvas.
Several of them in fact.
During Term 1, Maclean Public School approached Ms Parker, and asked if she would like to contribute any designs for their staff and Year 6 student leader uniforms.
She happily obliged, and the gracious smiles which illuminated the faces of staff and students when they received their new uniforms earlier this month, was the best way of showing their heartfelt appreciation to the renowned artist.
Featuring a colourful and symbolic representation of Maclean and its place on Yaegl land, and the importance of connection to country and culture, Ms Parker’s stunning design printed on the uniforms also incorporates the powerful message of Angwirri, her artwork which featured prominently on the Sydney Opera House.
Meaning “start to talk” or “begin to speak” in Yaygirr language, Angwirri promotes conversations in raising awareness amongst Australians of the importance and significance of Aboriginal culture.
Honoured by her contribution to Maclean Public School, Ms Parker has received many compliments from several delighted staff members and students who are proudly wearing her artistic creation and promoting Angwirri to the wider community.
“It was such a great idea,” Ms Parker said.
“It’s the first time I’ve collaborated with the school, and it was wonderful to work with them.
“After I did the illustrations I supplied digital images for the uniforms, and it’s great that everyone loves them and loves wearing them.”
Describing Ms Parker’s designs as “super impressive and amazing”, Year 5 teacher and Co-leader of the Aboriginal Education Team at Maclean Public School Jo Chorley wears her uniform with pride, and said her colleagues and students are amazed by the beautiful artwork and spirit it embodies.
“Frances has done such a great job and the designs are beautiful,” she said.
“The design also features the dingo, or Waandyi, and the dolphin, or Wuy Wuy, which symbolise Maclean’s connection to the Yaegl land and proximity to the river and the sea.
“It was a real collaborative effort between Frances and the school, and we were thrilled when she agreed to contribute her designs.
“All the kids were so excited when they were handed their new uniforms.
“They all love them, and the school is so thankful to Frances for her incredible effort.”
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 30 June 2021.