Bernard Sullivan has completed his doctorate and is now working as a postdoctoral research fellow at Charles Sturt University. He is a non-Indigenous artist working in collaboration with a number of Elders, notably from the Wiradjuri community in NSW, investigating ways of working that seek to uncover best practice for understanding and communicating cultural wisdom, within Aboriginal communities and, where appropriate, with the wider society.
The research explores Elder led collaborative creative partnership projects. Culturally responsive ways of acting are sought that directly draw on and align with cultural and ethical values that emerge directly from the Elders involved.
Recognizing the personal inner journey necessary in a project such as this, continuous self-reflection is an ongoing part of the process. The researcher is an active partner/collaborator, seeking not to speak for, but, where invited, to speak alongside, aiming to be neither passive mirror nor dominant voice.
There are a number of case studies completed or underway that consider a range of themes and ways of working, including:
– Wiradjuri language learning videos and animations.
– Elders’ physical and digital books based on life stories.
– Creative expressions of deep and unique cultural values such as the film Yindyamarra Yambuwan.
In general, Elder led projects that record and express their priorities for their community emerging from their ways of being and seeing the world.
The case studies show key concepts for living, including understandings coming from language, country and family, as well as perspectives that arise from the interactions, collisions and fractures that have occurred since European settlement.