Spirit Woman

By Peter Mack

T

he Australian Aboriginal nation is the oldest living culture in the world. That culture dates back about 60,000 years and still carries to this day the heritage, beliefs and spiritual connections of the past. The culture is rich in mythological stories (Dream Time), family values, living in harmony with the land and above all respect for those values. Traditional Australian Aboriginal art is founded on more than simply putting materials to support mediums; it encompasses the history and culture of the artist creating the piece. Many influences are present and they dictate the forms, shapes, colours and textures used. They guide the artist and in Eva Wanganeen’s case it is her Spirit Woman who has led her through troubled waters, that sits at her side peacefully showing her the way. Eva is an Aboriginal artist who openly welcomes her Spirit Woman into her life and she can be seen and felt in everything that Eva produces. Eva has an amazing tale of trials and tribulations to tell and she stands tall as an example to all of us to learn from. Eva’s journey began on a mission near Wallaroo in South Australia and through a variety of family associations is guided by diverse cultures and spiritual influences. She is tied to the Arrente and Kokatha people through her grandmother, the Wiringu through her mother and the River

Murray region through her father. Eva’s great grandfather Billy Kite, was one half of twins and was born in the far north of South Australia a very rough and inhospitable part of the country. Due to the harshness of the region, scarce resources and cultural practices, it was accepted that only one twin could be carried and the other was simply left behind. Billy was heard by a local stockman crying in the bush and was taken to the station and raised as a stockman himself. Eva was born with Spina Bifida and her family were told that she would never walk and would never bear children, which was a terribly cruel double blow to the family. Her grandfather Gilbert refused to accept this and spent untold hours with Eva in her early years getting her to stand against a wall and encouraging her to take hesitant steps by twirling a tobacco tin on a string. He made her walk towards the tin, she eventually began to take faltering steps and she learned to walk. When she was seventeen Eva was sitting outside a store and an expatriate Englishman noticed her as he drove by. Something told him to stop and Colin Brook went into the store so that he could walk by this girl on the bench. He came out sat down and started to talk to her. They still talk today over forty years later, and their beautiful daughter Kiah and son in law Philip have given Eva and Colin a wonderful grandson Dirrawai. Eva; guided by her Spirit Woman

began painting about 15 years ago under the mentorship of French silk artist Marie France. Her natural talent shone though and as she matured and learned she found her unique place in Aboriginal art. Her works are stunning in design and colour. You feel the heat, the dry, the wet seasons and are taken on a journey simply by holding a piece of Eva’s art in your hands. Eva has produced a range of silk scarves in a limited edition which represent the lady as she sees the world. There is strength, determination, courage merging with the spiritual energy and influences shared by Eva and her Spirit Woman. The colours are vibrant in their intensity and draw the viewer into the moment. Silk is a natural fibre and is said to be one of the strongest materials in the world. Pound for pound it is stronger than steel. Its beauty and luxurious feel have been a source of trade for centuries. It is an animal protein, similar to our hair which explains it’s sensuous, warm, lustrous touch and makes it the perfect material for exceptional clothing and fabric pieces. The silkworm (Bombay Moth) generates the base thread which is an environmentally friendly and non allergenic material. Eva has had a tough journey but with the support of her husband Colin she has shown that anything can be achieved despite what, at times seemed like insurmountable odds. www.evawanganeen.com.au

92 A Distinctive Style . COM

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