Stories about conflicts in western Queensland that impacted Indigenous populations will be shared as Logan Art Gallery opens its next exhibition round.

Former Slacks Creek resident and artist Colleen Sam (Ngungurnnumma Kalkadoon) will display artworks based on her cultural identity and her family’s historic journey.

She is a descendant of the Kalkadoon (Kalkadunga) people who lived in the region around what is now Mount Isa.

My story: the unbroken spirit of the Kalkadoons is one of four exhibitions on display at the gallery from April 23 to June 5.

Colleen and designer Keith Weribone (Mandandanji) have partnered to form Moonks Indigenous Art on Furniture.

Artwork in the exhibition feature paintings, furniture and rarely shared stories from the Kalkadoon people, including some from the deadly conflicts of the late 1800s.

Colleen Sam (Kalkadoon/Kalkadunga), The Creations Dreaming, 2020, acrylic on canvas. Photography credit: Carl Warner.

The stories, which highlight the struggle by Colleen’s family to preserve Kalkadoon cultural knowledge, have been handed down through four generations over 140 years.

Most have been kept as family secrets.

Colleen said the time was right to tell the stories rather than see the events covered only in history books.

“It is the first time we have shared it in a public setting,” she said.

The storytelling includes the capture of her great grandmother and aunt who spent the rest of their lives separated, and in servitude, on different Outback cattle stations.

Stories are told in the words of Colleen’s family and revolve around how they kept their culture alive and survived invasion, violence, captivity, forced labour, restrictions of movement and stolen wages.

Others have described the stories in terms of extinction, loss, oppression and attempts to tame the Kalkadoon people which they didn’t relate to, Colleen said.

“The European version is that they broke the Kalkadoons. That is not true. Our spirit is unbroken,” she said.

“We’re strong and we survived through everything.”

Colleen believes that telling the stories through art, design and film has created an important resource for younger generations.

Colleen received a grant through Arts Queensland’s First Nations Commissioning Fund to develop a film recording her family’s story.

She worked with First Nations media company Double Wire Productions and Pixel Frames to deliver this powerful story in film.

Colleen is also the artist behind the Young Peoples Gallery exhibition Mini Miners: finding ghost.

This exhibition features illustrations from her children’s book about mining trucks Wilfred, Jai, Joseph and Patrick investigating the vision of a mystery ghost truck.

The other gallery exhibitions on display include:

• Michelle Hamer: Are you having a good night? explores the use of threatening language towards women through a series of handstitched and hand-drawn works.

• Laila Aasand Bjornsson: The warp and weft of the forest – The Rochedale South artist has a background in weaving and textile arts and her oil paintings capture ‘the warp and weft’ of Daisy Hill Conservation Park.

The official exhibition opening will be staggered over three different sessions from 5pm Friday, April 23 in line with COVID-19 safe rules.

Bookings for all sessions are essential and can be made online at logan.qld.gov.au/gallerybookings

Logan Art Gallery is on the corner of Jacaranda Ave and Wembley Rd, Logan Central.

It is open from 10am to 5pm between Tuesday and Saturday. Entry is free.

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