James Chapman: a storyteller through art

IWC Family Support Worker James Chapman is a storyteller through art. His traditional works capture the stories of First Nation peoples for the community now, and future generations.

"I have to learn the story before I can paint,” he says. "It is about respecting our peoples.”
James was brought up by his uncles in the Wakka Wakka tribe (near Eidsvold), who instilled in him the cultural knowledge that he values so much today.

He also attributes his creative skills to his uncles while his work ethic comes, he says, from his mother’s side.

"Putting the two together, along with the cultural knowledge that I have been gifted with, has driven me to find the time and focus to be an artist while also working to put tucker on the table for my family,” says James.

His work at IWC, in a program that supports children and their families, also is important to him.
He knows it is key for such programs to have a strong knowledge of our First Nation peoples, and build the importance of Connection to Country for Aboriginal youth.

His art and work frequently overlap, such as his current participation in the Paint Bundy REaD early literacy project.

"Our Aboriginal Elders teach children through yarning. My artworks are yarning through art,” he says.

In the specific works he has created for the REaD project, he depicts Elders teaching children, with one of the topics being the Dreamtime and Rainbow Serpent.

James is an active artist, creating a range of inspiring works, including murals for schools, parks and more. He views his connection with his cultural heritage, and ability to translate stories for future generations as a gift beyond price. But it has its personal cost.

"It is not something that I can do at will. You don’t clock in and clock out. I can start an artwork in the morning and still be going late that night. The inspiration, the story in the art drives it.”

He adds: "Hopefully I will leave something for my future grandchildren. That will be part of my own legacy.”

Learn more about the ReAD project and James' role in it in this interview with ABC Wide Bay. Go to: https://soundcloud.com/abcwi…/mystery-eggs-grow-with-reading