Merging with the Earth: Art and Country Collide

Artist Orly Faya is collaborating with Indigenous groups around Australia to connect people to country through art. In the most literal sense.

She paints the person into the landscape, then takes a photo. The results are incredible.

“The project is about how all humans are able to connect to our inherent origins on earth through our Indigenous first people,” Orly said adding that she’s in the process of creating an invitation pack to find people to be her subjects.

Through each piece created, Orly and the subject will be raising funds for a community initiative nominated by the person being painted. “So it’s a collaboration between us and the production team,” she said. “And with the community initiative being funded, ripples are going to be able to expand through Indigenous initiatives.”

One of the projects Orly’s art will support is Madhima Gulgan – a Northern Rivers employment initiative for Aboriginal people and their families living around Mullumbimby. The Association has a bush regeneration team providing commercial environmental services.

“Gavin Ivey is a Koori fella connected to Madhima Gulgan,” Orly explained. “He is being painted in early December, into Mt Wollumbin.”

Ory said Gavin is a news presenter on Koori radio as well as a dancer and activist. He’s also the Indigenous liaison and cultural advisor for her whole project.

I asked Orly how she chooses the landscapes to focus her work on and she said she largely left it up to seeing who and what came forth, though she aspires painting people into well known environmental wonders.

“Including Uluru and the Kimberley,” she said. “ I want to represent the whole land mass as much as possible: rainforest, desert… 12 pieces to represent people of the land all over this country.”

Each of Orly’s creation will also be documented in a short film of three minutes, presenting the process of painting to completion of the final product, whilst the person painted tells the story of their community and the background of the initiative they’ve chosen to be funded.

“The concept is to do 30-day fundraisers,” Orley said. “Having the money means forward planning which is really important for a project like this.”

Merging with the Earth, Australia will take place over the next twelve months and local organisation is helping with the fundraising process.

The first piece The Yaru Merge @ Mount Warning will take place in early December from The Pinnacle lookout. 20% of the $5000 which will hopefully be raised, will be directed to Madhima Gulgan’s bush regeneration and Indigenous employment work.

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