We had the recent pleasure of getting to know a little more about Ryhia (pronounced rye-ah) Dank, the creative mind behind Nardurna.
Having been raised by strong women, this passionate young artist has already accumulated a great deal more life experience than most people her age. Here is some of Ryhia's story, as told in her own words.
"I grew up in two worlds. I grew up in the Gulf of Carpentaria [NT] and also down here in Buderim in Queensland. We moved all the time. My mum wanted us to know how to be comfortable in the city and also to know our story. I changed schools all the time. My mum is a teacher, and I was homeschooled. I can say that she taught me everything I know.
It was amazing living out on the station [in the Northern Territory] . We had no hot water, no electricity, lived in a caravan. You get up when the sun’s rising. You work with your uncles and aunties. It’s a very fun and different experience when you’re a child. When you grow up out bush you’re not considered a child. You learn to drive when you’re seven. You’re given all this responsibility at such an early age and then you come down into the city and you’re treated like a child. It’s very different."
Having grown up in the Northern Territory - a part of Australia known for having suffered the effects of fracking and oil drilling - the artwork that Ryhia created for the Naidoc 2021 theme, Heal Country! brought up some issues that she feels very strongly about.
"Garranjini is my sacred site, mine, my mum’s and my sisters. It’s a women’s site… From beginning as a dry, arid area it became a place where there’s springs, there’s fish, there’s life everywhere, there’s a waterfall certain times of the year and it's such an amazing, grounding sacred spot for my family and I... [Ending fracking and the destruction of sacred sites the NT] is something that I feel that really needs to be talked about."
Ryhia spoke about the land she grew up on with the sort of emotion many would reserve for their closest family members. She explained each nuance of her traditional land and memory made there in loving detail. As we talked it became very clear the places she described were much more than places to her. They were her world, a part of her and everything to her and her family growing up, and they still are.
You can catch our full interview with Ryhia in the Instagram post above, or you can follow Ryhia and her work here.