Stacey is a Taungurung/Boon Wurrung artist and Torch staff member who likes to paint about her journey. This includes the struggles that First Nations people face and the layers of intergenerational trauma that comes with this, including the despair that’s been passed down to her and how she gets through those struggles. Stacey’s grandfather and his siblings were removed under government policies and today Stacey describes herself as a grandchild of the Stolen Generation.
When Stacey was young, she didn’t want to be an artist because it might not provide a regular source of income. ‘Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I could pursue a career in art and the more become established the more confident I get in just being myself’.
In 2013 Stacey started working at the Koorie Heritage Trust where she met an Elder who helped her join the dots with her family connections. ‘The Elder told me that I am Taungurung/Boon Wurrung. Since that day I don’t paint dots anymore. My inspiration is the beautiful designs and patterns from traditional artefacts of my ancestors. Painting diamonds is healing for me. And now I can pass that healing down to my children and future grandchildren’. Stacey is exploring and reclaiming southeast Australian designs through her paintings, referencing concentric diamond designs from traditional shields and clubs from south-eastern Australia. ‘The traditional patterns that I use keeps me connected to my cultural heritage’.
‘Making art for me is really long process. I go through lots of feelings in the process but at the end I feel a sense of accomplishment when I finally complete a piece of artwork’. She likes to paint about her culture, her story, her journey and about being close to sister-girls and the strength I can draw from that.
When I paint I feel like I’m not in jail and it takes me to a time and place that is relaxing and I feel connected. I feel connected to culture I feel connected to my story and my identity.
She has a close relationship with another Torch artist Thelma Beeton. ‘Thelma taught me what’s it’s like to be a true sister’.
‘I think when I went to prison, I had this mindset that I was like stripped of everything’. The Torch program had a positive influence and allowed her to feel connected and strengthen her connection to culture as was appreciative of the support The Torch provided during her jail sentence. ‘We looked forward to the Arts Officers coming in every fortnight, encouraging us, supporting us, getting feedback on who may have bought out art and it lifts our spirits when you’re in jail. It encourages me to wanna do more’.
Upon release, Stacey felt blessed the be supported by The Torch and we expressed our excitement about her being back in community. She is currently doing some work as an Art Support Assistant at the Torch. ‘I get to learn the process from once the art gets to The Torch program and what happens to it, how meticulous and gentle and caring all the art staff are in processing the painting. It’s really fascinating to see all the time and energy that’s put into preparing a piece of artwork’.
With the help of The Torch program, Stacey also managed to pay for her daughter’s education and pay for her grandmother’s funeral. ‘It’s giving me the financial freedom to make choices and be one step further away from poverty. I was obviously really scared if that was even possible. Whether I was just I reaching too high and I’m still pinching myself’.
Stacey has now put an offer on a unit, which got approved! She says this would not have been possible without The Torch.
You know how things happen for reason and how I had to do jail and I had to do a long sentence. The seven years gave me plenty of time to do lots of healing and as a result it was just convenient as well to chip away at my artwork and accumulate a deposit for a home loan.
She is proud of herself and for making a plan while she was still inside and sticking to it. ‘I don’t want to end up back in prison, I don’t want to spend it all on unnecessary possessions and I really was focused on doing something productive with the money’.
Stacey is a great example of what all of our artists are so capable of and what a brighter future might look like. ‘All because of these beautiful people managing my art for the last seven years, I’ve been able to do it.’
The Torch are immensely proud of what Stacey has been able to achieve. Well done Stacey!
100% of the artwork price goes directly to the artist.