Born and raised in Bourke, Kristy Kennedy has strong links to Country through her Barkindji roots but also connections that travel the length of the Darling and Murray Rivers, through to the Coorong where her grandmother came from, Ngarrindjeri Country.
“So I make an effort to go to South Australia, down there to Country, and in Bourke, the river that passes through here, also goes down to the Coorong. And I didn’t realise that there’s a dreaming story about a spirit that travels up this way. Up and down the river…”.
Kristy’s grandmother played a strong role in the development of her creative identity. Cultural knowledge, was always something that was taught to Kristy when she was growing up, along with the links to creativity.
“I’ve always had it. Growing up, my grandmother lived with us and taught us stuff from when we were little kids. We’d sit at the table with her, by the window in the sun, painting with her, or weaving from a very young age, or telling us stories”.
Kristy’s creativity is best expressed through her basket weaving which is something her grandmother introduced into the community of Bourke for whoever wanted to learn. Kristy now continues this tradition in Bourke and passes her knowledge onto people in the community who are interested in learning about weaving.
“You’re building relationships - when we did this course in Bourke, I got to meet all these other people that live in Bourke that I’ve never seen before, and it was beautiful. It actually felt like we were family afterwards, and we’d actually only done it over the weekend”.
Kristy has had a strong leadership role in the community from being a lawyer in Sydney, to returning to Bourke to undertake community development work, and now as the TAFE Services Coordinator at TAFE NSW Bourke’s Connected Learning Centre. She is able to make connections to her work and the way people need to be engaged, and the way her creativity is expressed through her weaving.
“Because you talk when you are weaving. It’s a long, steady process, so you sit around the pile of reeds and you talk with each other while you weave. This is how knowledge is shared, and has been for thousands of years”.
The future, for Kristy, has a lot of art in it. While she will undoubtedly continue to play a key role in the community, it may be through her art that she is best able to communicate, and teach others to share knowledge.
“I’m going to start painting my art again. Do more weaving and sharing those with people, maybe selling some, or giving them away”.