Ancestry, art and academia inspire Dana to achieve excellence

Dana Anaru holding one of her original paintings

3 March 2015

Stories, songs and traditions based on years of family and cultural experiences flow through the paintbrush of Dana Anaru, a School of Arts & Sciences student at The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle.

The Bachelor of Science student, a Wajarri Yamaji / Maori woman who grew up in Mount Magnet, Western Australia, spent years experimenting with different colours and techniques basing her initial inspiration from artwork created by members of her family. Dana considers her artwork contemporary Aboriginal art since she was never taught to paint traditionally.

"When I paint, most of them have hidden stories behind them. Some are illustrations of Dreamtime stories that have been passed down to me; some are dreams that I have," Dana said.

"I can generally start and finish a painting in a day, however some pieces have taken me years because I have to know what I want to paint and make sure I'm in the right head space."

Associate Professor Clive Walley, Director of Indigenous Education, says the connection between academia and art for Aboriginal people is an important aspect of expression and knowledge for students and staff alike.

"Dana's artwork shows that she has enormous talent and skills that capture her Indigenous background and importantly, helps her continue her strong connection to country and community." Assoc Prof Walley said.

Dana was part of Notre Dame's first team to participate in the annual National Indigenous Tertiary Education Students Games (NITESG) that was held last October – an annual sporting event for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students and staff.

"Notre Dame has a very welcoming feel to it, it is a very intimate university. The staff are very supportive and you get to know them well." Dana said.

Sandra De Witt: Tel (08) 9433 0594;