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Indigenous artists asked to tell their cancer story through art

Friday 12 March, 2010

Indigenous artists of all ages and ability are being encouraged to share their cancer experience creatively by entering the internationally recognised Cancer Council Victoria Arts Awards.

The Indigenous Visual Art category, which was introduced 5 years ago, is always marked by the quality of its entries. These can range from painting and photographs to video works, craft and sculpture. Artworks can represent an artist's own experience with cancer, or that of a loved one.

Anjee-Lee Solomon, last year's winner of the Indigenous Visual Art category, said of her winning painting Strong Heart, Strong Soul, Strong Black Woman:

"My story is about a strong black woman named Elizabeth Von Roehl. Her fight with cancer lasted over 10 years. Her fight ended in 2008. Liz's passing was sad but she lived to see her daughter get married and that's all she wanted. She was a proud black woman and celebrated her culture through art. My painting is about Liz and other strong black women fighting the disease. In my painting Liz holds her breast  where the cancer started. Her wings are her support and in the end carried her to heaven and the background is about her tough journey and the fight for her life."

The Arts Awards were recently selected as the 2009 winner of the Visual Arts and Exhibitions Award category of The Ability Media International Awards for its creative excellence and social relevance.

Cancer Council spokesperson Deb Stringer encourages Indigenous artists from across Australia to enter:

"The Arts Awards bring together people who have been touched by cancer, while also raising awareness of the support services and resources available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at Cancer Council Victoria, such as our 13 11 20 helpline.

"Cancer affects many people in the Indigenous community, so raising awareness about how to prevent and detect cancer is vital.

"The Arts Awards represent an opportunity for both professional and budding artists affected by cancer to remember loved ones lost, help others understand the cancer experience and provide a sense of hope for others touched by the disease.

"We know that artistic and literary expression can help many deal with the pain and trauma of cancer and can also assist people through their cancer journey," said Ms Stringer.

Lee Darroch, Yorta Yorta woman and Indigenous artist, returns to judge the Indigenous Visual Art Award in 2010.

This year's theme is ‘Lost and Found' and entries are open to all Australians who have experienced cancer, either directly or indirectly.

In addition to the $1000 cash prize for the Outstanding Entry in the Indigenous Visual Art category, a range of works will be displayed in a touring exhibition that begins in Melbourne and travels throughout regional Victoria.

Entries close on Wednesday 7 April 2010. For more information, visit or call 1300 65 65 85.

Contact: Email Helen Marsden or call 0430 247 270 or (03) 9635 5427.