Francine Ngardarb Riches, an Indigenous artist from the Kimberley, shares about her artwork "All Things New", which she painted as a gift for Tearfund's partners as part of this year’s Jubilee celebrations.
Done in my Aboriginal semi-traditional style, I wanted to capture the theme “reset”, depicting God’s perfect creation and having the cross representing His presence in creation and in our lives.
Then he who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
– Revelation 21:5
This passage talks about the future that God has promised for every believer. He is going to make a new heaven and earth! This Jubilee celebration can reflect that coming event but also of how this earth used to be.
This painting has multiple symbolic meanings. These symbols relate to the main theme of newness, resetting and recognising God’s creation in our lives. Creation was perfect in every way when God first created the garden of Eden. Even though millennia have brought changes, creation still operates the way God has intended it to. In recent years we have seen a breakdown creating climate changes. There are extreme heatwaves now, more catastrophic weather patterns – the list goes on.
FISH - In my Bardi Jawi tribal home, I was raised on seafood. Fish was, and still is, our main source of food. We have traditional ways of fishing using the roots of the special shrub or tree which we use to catch fish in rock and reef pools. Seen here the roots of these small trees. The cross came from a tree that our Lord who created them was crucified on. The tree also symbolises the verse from the Gospel of John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
The rounded coloured shapes in the middle are waterways. Across the country people share different water sources, from springs to ponds and lakes. We have underwater springs that we would dig to find water. The various colours represent the influence of minerals in these large lakes.
The Lord talks of “the water of life”. John 4:14: “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
Around these lakes are the grasses depicting the vegetation that each of the waterways nurtures. The grass featured between the trees exemplifies 1 Peter 1:24-25: “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, But the word of the Lord endures forever.”
Symbols of people at the top of the painting is about connecting together to care for creation and celebrates continuity of life serving the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to work together to protect what God has given us.
My ancestors looked after the land and worked with the ecosystems. I was one of those lucky Aboriginal people. As a child I was raised by my family on the islands and mainland in the Kimberley, where we lived off the land and sea. I remember as a child my grandmother collecting bark from special plants to make medicines. We were taught where all the waterholes were, and many more survival skills.
My art illustrates knowledge handed down to me about what God has given us. Combined with the stories or themes I stylise my paintings with my own designs. The colours I use are mostly colours of the earth in its glory.
Praise be to God who has given me the ability to create pictures that represent his creation.