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Amala Groom is a proud Wiradjuri artist who utilizes a decolonising methodology to inform her creative process. Her practice can be described as multi-disciplinary and project based, focusing on contemporary social and political commentary. As an activist, Groom has advocated passionately for the rights of Aboriginal peoples both at home and internationally, including participating in eight United Nations Forums. For Groom, art-making is an extension of her work as a political activist; a platform for speaking out and speaking up about the legacy of colonialism. Groom explains, “It’s about being able to communicate with people. You can write a submission, do a speech, present a paper at the UN, attend a protest or you can make art… it’s about working. I’m just following my feelings so I can go where I’ll be most able to influence society and change the way people think.” Whilst Groom’s art is a manifestation of her political engagement her practice is also deeply informed by her cultural identity. As Groom explains, “I want to be known as Amala firstly and secondly as a Wiradjuri artist, because I’m inherently proud of my cultural identity. It’s my politics, my philosophy, my religion, my lore, my spirituality, my ontology, my whole way of life and way of being. So that informs everything in terms of the way I carry out my business and go about my life”. According to Groom, although she had always been an active appreciator of art, it was not until 2012 – whilst taking a break from her BA in Law at the University of Technology, Sydney – that she was overcome by a profound feeling that she needed to start making art. In response she enrolled in the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Cultural Arts Course at Eora College in Sydney. Amala explains that the decision to enroll in this degree is reflective of her commitment to “…letting my Kurunpa, or spirit, drive my life as opposed to my intellect…essentially it’s just being in tune with where the old people want you to go”. Whilst completing the diploma at Eora College, Groom participated in several group shows including: Coming Together Amnesty International & Eora at Boomalli Gallery, Sydney (2012), Eora 2013 at Verge Gallery, Sydney (2013) and Two Fires Festival of Arts and Activism at Braidwood (2013). As a finalist in the Parliament of New South Wales Aboriginal Art Prize in 2013, Groom’s submission, Thank You, an acrylic on canvas depicting a bottle and the text “Thank you for not drinking the poison”, was highly commended. This success led to the launch of her first solo exhibition, The Cider Series, held at Kings Cross Library in February 2014 and launched by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore. Here, Groom presented a collection of 12 paintings of Colonial Project cider including depictions of bottles of Genocider, Ethnocider and Memoricider. According to the artist this series aimed “… to peel back the white skin of Australia and show the blood that has been shed underneath…to unravel the grief and systemic violence against Aboriginal Peoples that is knotted into the foundations of the nation”. It also sort to level a critique at the “… tactics of colonialism and, most importantly, give confidence to people to question, resist and protect Aboriginal ways of being on this ancient and sacred place that always was and always will be Aboriginal land”. Thus, The Cider Series typifies Groom’s artistic modus operandi as an uncompromising and forceful socio-political commentator. In 2014 Groom won a place as a finalist in the Chippendale New World Art Prize with her photographic work, My definition of an boombastic Utopian style, exhibited at the NG Gallery, Sydney. The submission of a photographic work signifies the expansion of her artistic repertoire away from a painting-focused practice, towards a multi- disciplinary one. In line with this expansion the artist has gone on to create new works across a broad range of media, including installation and text-based illustration. Many of these works have been exhibited as part of group shows including; Breaking the Mould at MLC School, Burwood (2014), Monuments to the Frontier Wars (2014) and Lawful & Permissible (2014) both at the Damien Minton Gallery, Redfern. Despite diversification in terms of modes of practice Groom’s work continues to be broadly politically engaged: The seven works exhibited at Lawful & Permissible provocatively criticized the Abbott Government’s proposed repeal of section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act, as well as playfully exploring just how receptive political representatives are to feedback from their constituents when such proposals come under review. 2014 also marked Groom’s resumption of the study of law as well as the further consolidation of her artistic education via the commencement of a Bachelor of Fine Arts/Law at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. Writers: PriyaVaughan Date written: 2014 Last updated: 2015
b. 1979
Amala Groom is a proud Wiradjuri artist who utilizes a decolonising methodology to inform her creative process. Her practice can be described as multi-disciplinary and project based, focusing on contemporary social and political commentary.
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