Meet the winner of the AbSec Artwork Competition
Aiesha Pettit-Young discusses the inspiration behind her award-winning artwork, Future generations.
Friday 19 June
Aiesha Pettit-Young may only be 18 years of age but she has an acute understanding of the importance of remaining connected to Aboriginal culture and kin, particularly for young people.
A proud Wiradjuri and Wongaibon woman, her mob are from Condobolin and Lake Cargelligo in the central west region of New South Wales. She grew up in the Sydney suburb of Mount Druitt.
Aiesha’s grandmother was a member of the Stolen Generations, and ever since her family has strived to heal the loss of connection and trauma that resulted from this heartbreaking separation. Hearing about her grandmother’s ordeals had a great impact on Aiesha growing up and she became determined to learn more about her Aboriginal identity.
“My mum and older generations didn’t have the same opportunities to learn about their Aboriginal culture or art,” she reveals. “There is a big hole in our identity that has been stolen from us. I have seen the impact on our community and our Elders. Whenever I have an opportunity to learn about Aboriginal culture, I just take it. Culture brings us all together. It is comforting.”
Aiesha has been involved in several programs for Aboriginal young people, including the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy, cultural camps with Young Mob and dancing with Deadly Dreaming. A particularly memorable experience was a week-long cultural camp on Mardu country in Western Australia, where she was able to experience a traditional Aboriginal lifestyle.
“All these programs have made me the person I am today. Every Indigenous kid should use these opportunities to learn and pass down knowledge.”
She first became interested in art during year seven of high school at Chifley College Shalvey Campus. She credits an inspirational Aboriginal artist, Trent, for teaching her how to paint. For Aiesha art has now become a vital way for her to expresses her Aboriginal identity.
“Art is such an easy way to educate others about Aboriginal culture and to tell dreamtime stories. It is such a good way to keep Aboriginal culture alive and to pass on knowledge to future generations.”
Her family and friends encouraged her to enter the AbSec Artwork Competition, which was open to young Aboriginal artists up to 25 years of age.
Although paint and canvas are Aiesha’s usual mediums, she created Future generations on her mobile phone, which was a difficult and time-consuming process on such a small screen. A vibrant display featuring yarning circles and an Elder playing a didgeridoo to a group of children, Future generations was incredibly her first attempt at creating a digital artwork.
Future generations was voted the winning entry by AbSec members, staff, supporters, and social media followers, with over 1,300 voters believing it best represented the theme of the Competition, “Our continuing journey”. Now with the Competition’s prize of an iPad package, Aiesha is looking forward to creating more digital artworks on a larger screen.
“I would like to thank AbSec for helping me to share my art. Winning the AbSec Artwork Competition is a great way to get my name out there and to keep telling my stories through my paintings and art. I think it will also inspire other Aboriginal young people to get involved and learn culture,” states Aiesha. “It helps us as individuals to know our culture. It is so important for young people to understand the spirituality of our culture.”
Now that she has finished school with HSC in hand, Aiesha is forging ahead with a career in art. She has started her own business, creating bespoke artworks for her customers and decorating football boots. Her artistic talent is gaining more widespread attention. She also won the Cooee Festival’s 2020 Art Competition for her artwork entitled, Culture.