The art of community: Imagination for inclusive participation
Deborah Newenham-Coertse talks about the artwork we commissioned her to do which represents the Aurecon Attributes. With the artwork, I tried to capture the Aurecon Attributes. Also, the journey going forward - developing new ideas and thinking outside the box - don’t be afraid, fearless. So, it was a very intricate painting. There’s a lot of elements in there. I think in our business we are very sheltered from understanding the culture and the challenges the First Australians have. Supporting artists is one way for us to help our teams understand the challenges that Indigenous and First Australians have. It’s also a way that we can then start to merge our cultures together over time by shared experiences and understanding of each other. I find Aboriginal culture and Aurecon share similar values like the connection to people, to country and a focus on the future. Magnificently inspiring to see Aurecon’s strategy represented this way to align the cultural journey that we’re going on with our bringing ideas to life and being Future Ready which is so very important. In our business and a Western Australian context in the commercial environment we’re in, I just, I can’t … in many ways I can’t express in words what that journey looks like. By very simply creating a future together is sensational. This art is part of a broader strategy, a reconciliation action plan, our Indigenous participation plan. However, this piece of art speaks volumes a picture tells a thousand words. And every single person that sees the art can understand where they fit in. What I enjoyed about the project was working together to produce art that told a very real story. I was really scared when I was first asked to work with engineers. I thought what am I doing? What have I got myself in for? But then I got to know the team and I feel at home here. The connection to country that is depicted in the Aboriginal art work reminds me of the wonderful connection to land and country that Aboriginal peoples have. We can all learn a lot from that. Aurecon can learn a lot from that in the course of the delivery of our projects. The challenge to bring it all together - it was doing a lot of research on Aurecon, a lot of research on the Attributes and trying to tie that into a painting that tells a story – that you know - our journey forward. There are a number of pathways here at Aurecon Perth for the First Australians for employment opportunities. And the first one has arisen out of the Indigenous Engineering Summer School that we’ve participated in and it’s being able to give Year Ten students work experience here at Aurecon. And hopefully that develops further. The second is our Cadet Programme that’s underway and last but not least is our scholarship program that we’re developing and beginning to implement for the future. When we first met with Deb to talk about what Aurecon represents and how we wanted our Aurecon Attributes, values, and strategy to be represented in a piece of art she realised how aligned it was to the Aboriginal culture, the storytelling the connection to community, to people and the importance of projects where stakeholders work together. I’m really excited that my art has inspired others to learn more about visual storytelling. I’m still learning myself which is great and to share it with other people is just fantastic. We’re so proud to have this piece of art. So, when we have our Aboriginal students come into the office they can see that we believe that storytelling can be achieved through the use of Aboriginal art. It’s an honour to have it hanging there and to be such a big part of the board room there, where a lot of people of course will see it. And I really enjoy listening to what people say about the painting and pick out different things. And I’d love to be a fly on the wall. I love the reaction we get to this piece of art. We recently had our Curtin Summer School students attend our offices. And we had a Year Ten Aboriginal student say to me, “I get goose-bumps looking at this art.” The relationship that Aurecon has with a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artist is magic. Having their art work in our offices not only provides an opportunity for Aurecon employees to connect with the artist themselves but also to really connect with the culture of Australia’s First People.