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"We are many but in essence we are one"

5 Jul 2021 | Wayne Quilliam

Hardie Grant Explore is proud to publish First Nations voices.

To celebrate NAIDOC Week and recognise its 2021 theme Heal Country! we asked several First Nations authors and artists published by Hardie Grant about their publishing experiences and the impact of storytelling on national heritage and future generations.

Interview with author and artist Wayne Quilliam

Wayne QuilliamAdjunct Professor Wayne Quilliam is one of Australia’s pre-eminent Indigenous photographic artists, curators and cultural advisors working on the international scene. In his artistic universe, Quilliam defers to the influences of the ancestors as he shares the experiences of connection and isolation, of loss and discovery in his exquisitely realised artworks related to Healing Country. He is the author of Culture is Life, a modern, photographic celebration of the diversity of Indigenous Australians. You can find out more about Wayne’s artwork on his website.

What does your role as a published writer and author mean to you? 

My work in its purest essence is the evolution of cultural practice that connects us to Mother Earth; she inhales and exhales with us, has a heartbeat, and sings songs for all to hear. My role as a storyteller continues to evolve and this latest iteration as a published author is akin to a trickle of water merging into a small stream.

What do you most hope readers will take away from reading your book? 

Culture is Life is an emotive and sincere reflection of who we are as Indigenous people in today society.  It is a conversation created as an invitation for all humanity to walk with us on our journey and immerse themselves into a culture of inclusiveness.

How do books and shared stories impact future generations and our national heritage?  Culture is Life book cover

The duplicity of sharing an ideology in the hope others will embrace the narrative is quite subjective. Books are a modern iteration of cave paintings and ritualistic dance, they are fluid and constantly changing and evolving.

What stories and voices do you want to see more of on future Australian bookshelves? 

The wonderful thing about working with the team at Hardie Grant was the encouragement to share the true essence of Indigenous culture in a non-prescriptive fashion. I hope this evolution of Indigenous voice critiquing modern society continues to evolve and extends beyond a cultural clique.

Culture is Life is your first book published with Hardie Grant, what struck you about working on this project? 

For the past 30 years I have collaborated with authors and publishers across the world, sharing stories and photographs gathered during cultural immersions in every corner of the planet.  What has really struck me is the overwhelming support from ‘humanity’. In this time of global uncertainty people are rediscovering family and community connection, we are many but in essence we are one.