Freelance writer, Mel Harwin, of Killcare, is one of three locals who will be involved in the interactive art exhibition Yaama Ngura: A celebration of Belonging, to be held at the Flavours by the Sea festival on April 17.
The exhibit, created alongside freelance photographer, Hilda Bezuidenhout, and Uncle Gavi Duncan, will be part of a larger project aimed at showcasing stories from Central Coast locals who come from diverse backgrounds and cultures, shown through artwork created by both Harwin and Bezuidenhout.
It will also involve a smoke ceremony to welcome 10 immigrants and the subjects of the exhibitiona to Australia.
The exhibit was named by Uncle Gavi Duncan, which means welcome in his Gomeroi language.
The festival will be held at The Entrance and will host a series of stalls, displays, and shows that showcase the diverse range of cultures found within the Central Coast community.
Harwin is a freelance writer who grew up in Biripi country on the mid-north coast of NSW and now lives on Darkinjung country at Killcare.
She said she hoped audiences will see the presentation as more than a static one-day event.
“As the writer/storyteller on the project, it’s ironically very difficult to put into words the stories I have heard,” she said.
“The resilience, strength and just pure human interest elements are profound.
“It’s been exciting collaborating, and this is just the beginning of a project which is evolving into something much bigger, quite quickly.
“Together we are hoping to make our incredible culturally and linguistically diverse community on the Coast more visible.”
Bezuidenhout came to Australia from South Africa in 2003.
“After a few years of slowly making a home for myself here, I was involved in a special event whereby the African community living on the Coast received a First Nations welcome,” she said.
“Elders Gavi Duncan and Phillip Bligh led a Sunrise smoking ceremony at the Terrigal Skillion for us.
“As a migrant, this welcome meant so much more to me than the citizenship ceremony I attended a couple of years prior.
“It gave me a sense of belonging and years later birthed in me a desire to start this project and have others experience something similar.”
Central Coast Council Director Community and Recreation Services, Julie Vaughan, said the festival embraces the Harmony Day message of “everyone belongs” by showcasing music, art and cuisine from across the world.
“While the event needs to look a little different this year due to restrictions, attendees will still be able to enjoy free live entertainment from Christine Anu, Salsa Kingz and Dogma, as well as community groups Afro Moses, the Multicultural Fijian Association and the China Australia Friendship Association,” Vaughan said.
“Foodies will be excited to taste the flavours of the world at the Spanish, German and Vietnamese food stalls or enjoy a drink at the Six String Brewery Beer and Wine Bar.
Flavours by the Sea is a free event, but due to COVID restrictions, tickets need to be assigned.
Register on Council’s website.