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Dharug Voices – Dianne Ussher

Dharug Voices is a storytelling series celebrating Country and supporting new works by custodians and artists.

On 26 January 2021, Arts & Cultural Exchange commissioned Medicine Women of the Flannel Flower by Dharug artist Dianne Ussher.

Medicine Women of the Flannel Flower captures First Nations peoples ongoing healing journey and connection to Country in the wake of 26 January, and trauma, loss and resilience.

This work was made possible through Create NSW’s Rescue and Restart fund.

Medicine Women of the Flannel Flower by Dharug artist Dianne Ussher commissioned 26 Jan 2021 by Arts & Cultural Exchange as part of our Dharug Voices storytelling series.

Artist Statement - Dianne Ussher

Medicine Women of the Flannel Flower story tells of Invasion Day, the impact on us, the Traditional Owners, our Ancestors, our ongoing healing journey; our connection to Country, and our affinity with flannel flower.

Flannel flowers represent the spirit of the Traditional Owners of Australia. Like the flannel flower, our Ancestors, their descendants and ours rely upon resilience and endurance to adapt to change to survive; we resonate with flannel flowers. The flannel flower survives by its inherent strength, as we, the Traditional Owners do.

Burramatta (Parramatta) River flows it brims with Burra – (Eels) swimming upriver. It symbolises the Invaders’ first point of contact, Dharug Country. Beams of spirit and light sprinkle its surface and beyond. The Invaders’ impact spread beyond their initial place of settling; claiming all their own, until the entirety of the Country and its Traditional Owners were swept up into a culture alien to them in all ways, in a land no longer theirs.

The Medicine Women of the Flannel Flower restore our spirit with its medicine of resilience, endurance, adaptability and strength in the face of all we have lost and, continue to lose. Songlines guide our spirits as we walk, come together, yarn and heal culturally in traditional Healing Circles.

The spiral Healing Circles represent the transgenerational nature of the trauma experienced by all. We walk, gather together, yarn and heal as our Ancestors did from the date of Invasion.

We are many colours since Invasion Day, no less Aboriginal. This is symbolised by different coloured foot imprints walking the healing journey.

Flannel flowers and their medicine women are celebrated in both colours of bloom and healing. Pink flannel flowers rarely bloom, thriving only after fires and rain.

We come together on Invasion Day to acknowledge, educate and clarify a truth. Our Country, the Traditional Owners of this land, never ceded ­– we were invaded.

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