Trudy West

Trudy grew up in Tasmania and is a …..woman.  Growing up with 13 siblings and as many cousins meant there was never a dull or lonely moment.  Stories of her culture and ancestors were told often but although she embraced her Aboriginality at home the wider community of the 1960’s & 70’s were not so keen.

During her thirties Trudy began to explore what was missing in her cultural education.  Aboriginal history was never taught at school, rarely discussed and often treated as irrelevant.  When her sister and brother attended an art course at TAFE they encouraged her to do so as well.  This enabled Trudy to connect more deeply to her culture and she’s never looked back.

Trudy is an avid painter; she says she will paint on anything she can get her hands on. From mirrors, papier-mâché eggs, beads to canvas. Just talking about painting brings a smile to Trudy’s face and her joy is obvious and contagious.  Through TAFE Trudy has become an accomplished jewellery maker, specialising in etched brass broaches and necklaces. Recently she has branched into lino printing.

She draws inspiration from the stories her Mum told her about her Nan, Uncles or Aunties, also her experiences growing up. It’s a feeling where she goes into her own world for hours and just paint. She’s often still up at 4am finishing a piece off and says her husband’s role at those times is to just keep the cups of tea coming.

She feels strongly that artists should be true to themselves, creating art that pleases them so they can be proud.

Her love of rich earth colours, red, yellow, black and white ochre ground her paintings and represent her desire to hang on to her traditions.

She strives to teach Indigenous kids about their art and culture and has a long history of running after school care art classes and weaving at McGuire College.  She believes as a means to connect to your parents, grandparents and elders, it’s priceless. The stories will always live on and it’s important for young people to understand their history, to engage with it and in turn pass it on. For some of them it’s an opportunity to teach their parents which in turn strengthens their bond.

Trudy wants all Aboriginal people to stand with pride, to never let anyone put them down and to always have faith in their talent. Trust in their culture and encourage each other to achieve more. She says her own experience since she began painting is a perfect example of this. She would have never expected anyone would want to purchase her works let alone be commissioned to paint a flag for Reconciliation Week in 2006, which was later used on postcards at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Trudy is currently working on a piece that is open to interpretation. For her it represents the trials of life, birth, death, sorrow and pain. But she is fascinated by what other people see in her art and doesn’t feel she should influence their experience of it.

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