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Spotlight: Lily Bennett

In recognition of NAIDOC Week 2020, we are spotlighting some of the most inspiring Indigenous creatives around. Here we talk to beautiful Lily Bennett, the artist making waves in Sydney.

What is your full name?

Lillianna Eloise Constance Finlay Bennett Nuddij

Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born in Paddington, Sydney but from a young age I spent a few years growing up in Menindee (out bush in the deep west of NSW) and these days I reside in Ulladulla in a little black beach shack on the south coast of NSW.

How long have you been painting for?

I’ve only been painting for about 6 months and my painting began after my father passed away, I had a dream a few days after he passed and it was of him and I sitting side by side painting with our hands together. So I thought I’d try and paint the grief and sadness out.. and it truly created such a deep feeling of inner peace and grounding.

Tell us about your beautiful artwork and the meaning behind some of your pieces?

My artworks are made from a mixed medium of acrylics, different natural earth found out bush, by the sea and natural Australian clay collected in secret natural depositories.

A lot of the meaning behind my paintings is signified by the many finger dots, these dots are usually an array of different colours in different sections of the paintings, the dots are meant to be us, and by us, I mean every single living being on this planet, every single cell that exists on this earth is meant to be here and symbolises that we are all connected in one way or another.

And the lines within my pieces signify water, rivers that run to the ocean, rivers of blood that flows within us is mainly water and how incredibly important water is.

Without water we simply would not exist, and I wish all humans could understand the sheer importance of doing our part in caring for the earth, the water, animals; the fact that sacred sites are usually sacred sites because often they hold water which holds us physically and spiritual

What is the process you use to paint? 

I paint sitting on the ground, using mainly my hands to spread the paint and earth and my fingers to place the dots on the piece. I find it almost like transcendental meditation and a medicine for my heart and spirit.

Tell us what NAIDOC Week means to you?

NAIDOC week means so many things to me.  When I celebrate NAIDOC week I celebrate the ancient beauty and intelligence that my culture holds. I celebrate my pride in the strength of my ancestors and family.

I celebrate the fact that we are the oldest living and surviving peoples on this earth. NAIDOC week gives me hope, hope that we as a collective can heal this country, this whole world if we recognise that we need to practice the old traditional ways of looking after our land, our water, our people

How can others get involved with NAIDOC Week in a meaningful way?

The 2020 NAIDOC week theme is ‘Always was, Always will be. This saying acknowledges that our nations story began at the dawn of time many many years before Europeans documented us.

If you’re lucky enough you may have a local indigenous people’s centre or online group that will usually organise some kind of group gathering to celebrate NAIDOC week. Otherwise you can acknowledge NAIDOC week in any way that feels meaningful to you, that could be doing your research on indigenous Peoples by reading up on their history, struggles and knowledge. There are many books that have a lot of incredible information some of my favourites are:

Dark Emu ~ Bruce Pascoe

Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia ~ Anita Heiss

Black Politics ~ Sarah Maddison

Also google more information on what events will be happening close to you

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I can only speak for myself but I know that when someone comes to me interested to listen and to learn about my culture it fills my heart with pure joy. To know that my culture is still seen and appreciated to this day make me feel so proud of our accomplishments to continue the fight to be recognised, appreciated and seen as equal.

Follow Lily and her work here