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Talking Hope with Rachael Sarra

The beautiful Hope knot wrap was designed by proud Goreng Goreng woman, Rachael Sarra. Elisia Gray Buyer for Lush Australia & New Zealand, whose heritage is from the Wiradjuri Nation, spoke to Rachael about the inspiration behind the artwork, and more!

“For me hope, if we are talking about COVID-19, or if we are talking about equal rights for women, or the health and equality for First Nations people; hope is something that bubbles internally until it overflows creating a journey for us all. You can see how I’ve created this idea through the use of my colours as well as the added layer of dot work. Each section is beautiful and unique but collectively you see the beauty and harmony in diversity.” - Rachael Sarra

Tell us about Goreng Goreng country where you are from. What is your connection to this land and how does this work interchangeably between your art and connectedness to land with one informing the other?
I’m a proud Goreng Goreng woman on my father's side. His mother was a very proud Aboriginal woman. I’ve never lived on Country so my work has always explored the distant relationship I have with Country and this energy that I feel every day despite the distance.

How does art connect people to Country?
I’m sure this would be different for every artist, but for me, it’s like looking through a photo album. Every piece I create really helps me feel at home. When I look back at work I’ve created, those same emotions come rushing back. 

Your designs are quite recognisable with broader sweeps of colour and lots of pinks and purple. Can you tell us how this style came about? 
My work is an exploration of my experiences. It’s a way for me to process different emotions. My brush strokes and colour selections are intrinsically linked to those. Every colour evokes a different emotion and I really lean on the psychology of each other. So I would say it’s my subconscious that determines it. It’s the removal of fear and process that allows me to create work.

Can you tell us more about the design of Hope knot wrap and the meaning behind your artistic choices in this piece? 
Hope is a funny word. It can’t exist without trust. 
For me, you have to let go in a sense and this year we have had to think differently. It’s an optimistic word but it exists from darkness or disconnect. So this piece is an exploration of trust, of coming together in darkness and unity.

This design was created just as the pandemic set in? How has this impacted your designs? 
After I created this piece I took a bit of a break from creating. A lot of my energy went into self-preservation rather than creating for others. So I would say it became very stagnant.

Tell us about your artistic process. What is your workspace like?
My process is dynamic. My workspace is…. messy. I’m kind of in-between studios right now so it’s kind of wherever I can pull up.

Can non-Aboriginal people wear your design? How might you advise someone who loves or has an affinity with Indigenous art but is conscious that they do not want to be culturally inappropriate? 
Simple. Do not create Aboriginal art. Buy it from ethical stores. Better yet, direct from Aboriginal artists. Of course, if a product is created by an Aboriginal artist and it is for sale then it was created for anyone unless specifically stated.

I am sad that I didn’t learn more about Aboriginal culture in school or have more experiences in remote Australia when growing up. Do you have advice for anyone wanting to reconnect to culture? Where can they start? 
Before you connect to Aboriginal culture, understand whose land you are on. Who are the Traditional Owners of your area? Instead of going in with the intention of learning about the culture connect and build genuine and authentic relationships with people.

How can art help overcome systemic racism? 
It calls out the injustices. It communicates in a way that can break down barriers. I did a TED X Talk that touches on this. You can watch the talk here

What has been the most defining moment in your career to date?
Stepping out and working for myself. Having the courage and self-determination was pivotal.

Have you had to overcome any fears/challenges to pursue your ambitions?
Yes, overcoming systemic and casual racism in different ways. Constantly having to justify who you are and why your identity matters. Being treated like a dictionary with no foundation of a personal or professional relationship. This list is endless.

Is there a person/brand/group that inspires you right now?
Blak Women. I am constantly in awe of Blak women who constantly show up for themselves. They are the epitome of strength and hope.

Find more of Rachael's works at rachaelsarra.com

Hope knot wrap is now available online and in stores.


Rachael Sarra, Goreng Goreng Artist
a pink patterned knot wrap
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