Freestone storytelling: The art of history hardship and healing
Contemporary indigenous artist, Lauren Freestone, uses her art to tell her mob’s stories — of hardship and of Country — and to start conversations around acknowledgment and reconciliation for First Nation people.

Tell us about yourself

My dad’s family and I are proud Wiradjuri people. I grew up on beautiful Gumbaynggirr Country in a little coastal village called Scotts Head on the mid-north coast of NSW. I now live on Awabakal country in Newcastle. I have worked in retail the last 10 years, I am a mum and I love to paint.

In what way does your work reflect the stories from your mob or culture?

My work is mostly inspired by my family and country; their personal journeys and hardships influence my work immensely. My great-great-great-grandfather was a tracker and his knowledge of the bush and his country inspires me greatly. I am also often inspired by my family and other mob’s hardships and I find art is really a healing outlet for me. My work is more contemporary and a reflection of mine and my family’s story rather than our sacred dreaming stories.

What Aboriginal symbols do you use in your work?

I usually use people sitting, which is the little “U” shape symbol and meeting circles. My dad, who’s also an artist, uses a lot more animals and animal tracks in his hunting stories.

Each artwork is so intricate and detailed. How long does it take to finish a piece?

Each piece can take a week to a month. I really have to be connected to what I’m painting; if I’m really inspired it just pours out of me; if I’m not I have to wait until I feel it again.

What are some of the ways you share your culture through your art?

My connection to Country and our ancestors is something I share through my work as they’re always entwined throughout my paintings. I also use art to tell our stories; we all have a story to tell and art helps start that conversation. People are often shocked when I talk about what my family went through and what still happens to our people today. If anything, I hope I can encourage people to want to learn for themselves.

What can non-indigenous people do to support indigenous people?

Come to our protests, sign our petitions, support other small business. Not just art, we do everything! Visit your local mob and take a tour on Country where you live. Read books — there are so many available now. Help us free our flag!

When it comes to your art, what’s next?

Dad and I have been talking about painting together, so I’d really love to do a few pieces with him.

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