Indigenous artist

Sherena Bin Hitam

2022 Emerging artist - I am a Gaarra (saltwater) Oorany (woman) – also known as Jaogerie to my family. My Aboriginal heritage is of a multicultural mix Malay and English. It is my strong Aboriginal heritage from my Maryann Hunter - maternal line is Bardi & Jawi people from the Dampier Peninsular north of Broome, my father a Malaysian who came to Broome in 1950’s for the pearling industry as an indentured labourer and English is from my grandfather’s father Harry Hunter. I was raised in Broome by my dad’s (Gabriel Dolby) sister Alberta McKenna (nee Dolby) and her husband Jack McKenna. They gave me a home full of life and love, learnings, connection to other Yawuru families and Buru in Broome. My younger years influenced my strong multicultural connections too, with the other Asian cultures that was infused daily and provided my life with an educational foundation and appreciation of different cultures and how the world and international demand for pearl shell among other World events can influence your upbringing and who I am today. My art mostly comes from memory of my early years with my mum and dad Gabriel Dolby (an artist and craftsman) and grandparents Sandy & Esther Paddy were artistic and craftly too, always teaching and passing on their cultural and traditional knowledge we needed to know. The traditional dreamtime stories, old camping places, seasons are very valuable are etched in my mind with faces, names, stories of people and places, experiences and their adventures, smells of the old Djarindjin community the sand dunes, old Albi tree, collecting bush fruit – mardoorr, mangarr, iilarr, goorralga, joongoon, gamaloon and niyalboon (bush onion) and mostly shelling and collecting barrgay with my grandmother is very strong in my heart. It is their voices I hear, the smells that remind me and feelings it provokes inside. It is this connectedness to Buru (land) and Gaarra (sea) gives me inspiration to draw, print, replicate and interpret, as an expression through different mediums. It can ignite happy or sad emotions to express the rich natural land and sea scape full of history, colours, characters, all these are my cultural perspective and interpretation. In 2021, I have commenced formally as an artist with Nagula Jarndu doing textile block printing and using my art for jewellery too. Now as an artist at home I am experimenting with mixed media on paper and canvas and exploring with print and sharing stories producing merchandise from my art in supporting and promoting cultural tourism. Like me, my art walks in two-worlds in contemporary and cultural society. My lived experience as an Aboriginal woman, is my story telling through art, in achieving success and living with unsatisfactory outcomes, I keep my Liyan strong and on purpose to follow my dream doing art.

Indigenous language groups

Yawuru Bardi Jawi