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Proud Kalkadoon artist, Chern’ee Sutton, Youth of the Year
Proud Kalkadoon artist, Chern’ee Sutton, was a joint winner of the National NAIDOC Youth of the Year Award announced at the NAIDOC Awards ceremony held on the Gold Coast on Friday 11 July.
The awards celebrate the outstanding contribution that Indigenous Australians make to their communities and the nation. This year’s theme for NAIDOC Week was “Serving Country: Centenary & Beyond”
Chern’ee explained that she felt humbled and proud to be recognised as one of the winners of this prestigious award.
“I was actually very, very surprised but I feel so proud and honored to receive this amazing award, and to be recognised by Elders and the Indigenous community nationwide was just unbelievable. It is certainly the biggest highlight of my career so far,” Chern’ee said.
“Dad was with me on the night and as soon as they called my name I could see a little tear in his eye. Even when I called mum and told her the good news, she just screamed into the phone and told me how excited she was.
“There were a lot of hugs and tears as well. Even I was teary eyed on stage when I was giving my speech.”
Chern’ee has accomplished more than most 17 year olds. Not only is she an extremely talented artist, she has used her talent and her art to benefit others.
To date, she has donated more than $60,000 worth of art to charities and organisations across Australia to raise much needed funds.
As a child growing up, Chern’ee knew that she had a gift for art.
“As a kid, I always loved drawing and creating stuff with my hands but I never really painted till I was in high school, when I was encouraged by my school to enter an Indigenous art competition. I didn’t think I had a chance of even placing but I ended up coming first in the open category,” Chern’ee said.
“So that sparked my passion for art and from there it’s just snowballed.”
Chern’ee’s passion for reconciliation inspires a lot of her art, and proudly two of her artworks hang in Queensland’s Parliament House.
One of the artworks is called Ajarku Muruu which in Kalkadoon language, means “All One Country”, and this is the name of an art competition Chern’ee is organising for Mt Isa school children in September to inspire and encourage young Indigenous artists.
“It’s for primary school students and there are going to be close to 2000 students painting about reconciliation and equality,” Chern’ee said.
“It was an art competition that got me started, so if I can spark someone else’s passion for art and maybe even get them to be an artist or just give them hope, it would be an amazing thing.”