Darryl Ferguson is a Gamileroi man from Collarenebri with connections to Yuwaalaraay, the traditional owners of the land on which he now calls home, Lightning Ridge.
His work is what he describes as ‘culturally appropriate’ carving of artifacts, weapons, traditional tools, etc.
“Traditionally our people carved, and told their stories on the trees – we didn’t have the rocky outcrops to paint on, so we used the trees to capture our songlines”.
Darryl works with schools, police, departments and shire councils to pass on the form of art and culture that is appropriate to the region.
“It’s not art, it’s culture – the markings and lines have specific meanings, and the very act of going out and participating in the practice, is culture”.
Darryl sources local timbers, spending a large part of his practice out in the bush, connected to the landscape. He uses the natural bends, burls and forms to create traditional tools, such as coolamons, boomerangs, etc. Rarely using paint to dress up his craft, the natural colours and grains are exposed in each piece for their inherent beauty.
“There’s a lot of getting your hands dirty in what I teach kids – it’s about being on country and getting experience connecting with the land – that is where culture comes from”.
Darryl’s carvings can be found in the region as major installations, up to three metres tall. His work incorporates both traditional markings, and realistic images of animals, plants and landscape features. His work is also gaining interest overseas, recently taking a commission for seventy coolamons for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.
The future for Darryl is to keep working locally, to maintain a strong local link, and ensure that the unique cultural language of the region lives on for generations to come.