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Our people - Nici Cumpston

Nici CumpstonWriting a new Indigenous arts, cultures and design course was my first task when I joined the University in June last year. After just a few weeks to get the course up and running, I began teaching the course, with my time as lecturer equally divided between the SA School of Art and the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research.

While the compulsory third-year course in both the visual arts and visual communications degree programs has been really well-received, I am fine-tuning the course in order to have a greater impact on people’s understanding of Indigenous art and culture.

With my Aboriginal, Afghan, English and Irish family background, my strong connection with my Indigenous forebears and their culture has instilled in me a great deal of passion for this aspect of my teaching.

A UniSA visual arts graduate majoring in photography, one of my main interests is learning about other indigenous artists and practices, and keeping myself informed of other cultures including those of international artists, as well as my research into visual arts practice, which I hope to incorporate in a PhD, which is in the planning stage.

As a practising artist I am probably best known for a commissioned artwork, which comprises a large scale installation of photographic artwork in the foyer of Adelaide’s new Commonwealth Law Courts.

Much of my work is photographic but I create black and white images and then hand colour them with water colours and pencils. Currently I am working on large scale pieces that I create on film, and then have scanned and printed digitally onto canvas.Being involved in exhibitions nationally, as well as locally is important for me to maintain an active arts practice. Last year I was honoured to be one of 10 finalists from a national pool of emerging Indigenous artists in the inaugural Xstrata Coal Emerging Indigenous Art Award held at the Queensland Art Gallery.

Before joining UniSA, I worked at Tauondi College, an Aboriginal College at Port Adelaide, teaching photography and a culturally-based subject in the Advanced Diploma of Visual and Applied Arts for 10 years.

My great desire is to see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people attending university and I am especially passionate about getting students interested in UniSA’s visual arts program.

Flooded gum, Katarapko Creek, Murray River National Park 2007, Nici Cumpston's entry in the 24th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award