Common Ground is thrilled to welcome 17 year old Kiahma Walker to the team through the Indigenous Arts Mentor Programme. Kiahma will be working with us on weekends and for special projects for the next 6 mths whilst she completes Year 12. Here is Kiahma’s story in her own words and some of her photographic work from a recent trip to Hong Kong.
“Amidst the thrill of starting my first term of year twelve at school it was a sweltering weekend, when my dad (Anthony Walker) suggested that I apply for the Indigenous Arts Mentor programme (IAM).
I was nervous at first as I had only begun photography after receiving a camera for my birthday in 2014 and considered myself a bit of a beginner having only played around with film cameras in a photography class at school. Although after a little persuasion from my dad I got together a few of what I considered to be my best photographs at the time and went through the application process as I was answering questions it became more and more evident that the I AM programme would be something I could really benefit from.
After applying for the programme I went on to learn and grow as a photographer through trial, error, experimentation and reading numerous books and studying the photos of my personal inspirations such as Steve McCurry, Dorothia Lang and Nick Knight.
Although I admired all these artists and their ability to capture a sense of imagination and beauty, when I first started out I found the thing I most lacked was subjects, living in rural Uki at the age of 17 with my mum as my primary source of transport provided dismal considering the type of diversity I yearned for.
During the fast paced schoolwork and exams I still had the thought of my application sitting patiently in the back of my mind and then there it was a phone call from Natalie Bull congratulating me on being accepted as a mentoree into the programme, I was over the moon that I had been recognised as worth their time.
Beaming, I set off on the Christmas holidays reinvigorated with the promise of meeting my mentor in the New Year.
Over the holidays I was presented with the opportunity to travel to Sydney and Hong Kong these experiences combined opened up a world of wonder and creativity concerning my photography. Hong Kong had a particular impact on my sense of creativity as the diverse culture of the country intrigued me in a way I hadn’t experienced before, there were street markets buzzing with activity and zest contrasted with luxurious shopping malls that were stalked by glamouress women fit to be fashion models. It was a different world and one the photographer in me enjoyed immensely. Every day was a venture into a wonderland of colour and shape not seen every day in Australia but also within this trip I learnt to appreciate the serine beauty of the country I belong to and the paradise that is the tweed region.
Upon returning home I was soon greeted with Natalie announcing that I would meet with Kirra Pendergast as a mentor, when the meeting did occur I knew immediately that we would work well together Kirra shared the passion and drive I felt as a photographer and offered the knowledge and diversity to help me grow.
And so I embark on this mentorship exited with what waits and hopeful for the knowledge to come. My photographic interests include photojournalism, fashion photography and artistic concept. I am interested in portraying emotion and culture through photographs exploring the effect of tradition and society on individuals. ultimate aim throughout the I AM programme is to produce a photographic series that explores these elements.”
IAM is managed by Arts Northern Rivers and made possible through funding from Arts NSW, Aboriginal Regional Arts Fund.